Over 500 persons are living on Government reserves in Sophia, Greater Georgetown.CH&PA Director of Settlement Upgrading and Regularisation Unit, Gladwin CharlesThis is according to the Central Housing and Planning Authority’s (CH&PA’s) Settlement Upgrading and Regularisation Unit Director, Gladwin Charles.Charles was at the time addressing the issue of regularising areas where there is a large number of squatters.He added that some 85 per cent verification of squatters’ lots throughout various areas which are being regularised across the country has been carried out.He stated that for Sophia, which is the biggest area in Guyana to be regularised, verification and distribution of land titles are still ongoing.“That area is one of the largest areas we have in the country in terms of regularisation. We have approximately 5549 lots in the area and we’ve regularised approximately 85 per cent in terms of verification and about 75 per cent of those persons have received their titles to date,” Charles said.He added that some 24,000 lots will be available throughout the various regions after nationwide regularisation is complete.The Director also expressed that the CH&PA has been facing difficulties with relocation, however, collaborative efforts with organisations such as Food For The Poor (Guyana) Inc, have been made to provide homes for families.“In terms of relocation, we know that’s a bigger challenge, for example, in Sophia we have on the reserves, we’re working with those persons in terms of relocation. We’ve interviewed over 500 persons on the reserves on the power lines…that’s why I mentioned it’s very challenging in terms of relocation but we’re working with those persons with the community groups, community leaders…,” he stated.Over the years, squatting has posed a major challenge across the country for both the current and previous Administration.Chief Executive Officer of the CH&PA, Lelon Saul, said the body has a “zero-tolerance” policy as it relates to squatting.“Persons who are squatting will be removed but we must identify appropriate locations for them and we are currently working on that. There is a lot of issues that must be taken into consideration,” he said.Moreover, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) had indicated plans to ramp up its work to remove squatters from across the country, as it has now been inundated with reports of incidents with affluent people in society also being accused of partaking in this illegal practice.GLSC Commissioner Trevor Benn told Guyana Times that it has been observed by the Commission that there has been rampant squatting taking place along the reserves in Georgetown. Benn said along the area stretching from Bourda to Mandela Avenue, Georgetown, every single landowner has extended their fence.“And these are people with knowledge, money and who should understand that they should not squat. One of them is a senior businessman, who even went to the courts to prescribe for the land,” he explained.He added that as a result of this illegal act, the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown did not have access to clean the reserve which is posing a major problem in keeping the area clean.Benn said, “So, squatting is not a poor people thing. It’s everybody squatting. It has become rampant and it has to stop and we will go after people as much as we can. We have a no-compromise policy when it comes to squatting. People should not squat. The law said so,” he asserted.The Commissioner said it observed that there was a significant increase in squatting along the Linden-Soesdyke Highway and in Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima-Waini), among other areas. Squatting has taken place on lands already leased for industrial, commercial and residential land use, and on reserves, which constrain development of some areas and delay processing of land applications.The Commission has said that all squatters, including those who are encouraging squatting, will be prosecuted and new squatter settlements will not be regularised.
AP Photo/John RaouxOrange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, left, answers questions at a news conference near the scene of a shooting where there were multiple fatalities in an industrial area near Orlando, Fla., Monday, June 5, 2017. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said on its official Twitter account that the situation has been contained.ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A disgruntled former employee opened fire Monday inside a Florida awning factory, killing five workers before killing himself, authorities said.Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings described the shooter as a 45-year-old man who had been fired in April and had been previously accused of assaulting a co-worker. The attacker was not believed to be a member of any type of subversive or terrorist organization, he said.The man was not charged when he was accused of battering the co-worker in June 2014, and his previous criminal record was otherwise minor — marijuana possession and driving under the influence, the sheriff said. The co-worker he allegedly beat up three years ago was not among the victims Monday, the sheriff added.Shelley Adams said her sister, Sheila McIntyre, called her from the company’s bathroom during the shooting and kept repeating, “My boss is dead. My boss is dead.”Fiamma Inc. calls itself one of the largest manufacturers of awnings for camper vans, motor coaches and sport utility vehicles.State and federal law enforcement officers converged on the awning business in an industrial park in Orlando shortly after 8 a.m. after a woman ran out and called 911 from a tile business across the street, said Yamaris Gomez, that store’s owner.“All she kept saying was he was holding a gun and told her to get out,” Gomez said.Officers were dispatched within 45 seconds and arrived two minutes later, the sheriff said. The FBI also responded, said Ron Hopper, who runs the FBI’s Orlando office. And while five people were killed, “seven others’ lives were saved due to the quick actions of the officers who arrived on the scene today,” said Special Agent Danny Banks of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.Authorities had no reports of any specific threats the gunman made to people at the company or anyone else, Banks said.The attack shows why people need to alert authorities whenever they learn of anything that could lead to violence, Banks said.“If people see something that seems abnormal, they need to say something,” Orlando Mayor Teresa Jacobs added.Sen. Bill Nelson called for more action to address mental health issues. He noted that next Monday will mark a year since the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The attack at the Pulse club killed 49 people and wounded dozens more.“The city of Orlando, which is still healing from the Pulse massacre, has seen too much violence this past year,” the Florida Democrat said in a statement.Republican Gov. Rick Scott asked “all Floridians to pray for the families impacted by this senseless act of violence.”___Associated Press Writer Freida Frisaro in Miami contributed to this report.___The story has been edited to correct spelling of last name of sheriff to Demings, not Demmings. Share