Ministry Launches ‘Land for the Landless’
In what can only be described as ‘an extensive undertaking by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to empower its citizens’, the Minister of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs Dr. the Honourable Roodal Moonilal launched the ‘Land for the Landless’ programme on November 27, 2012 at Agostini Building, South Quay, Port of Spain.
An initiative of the Land Settlement Agency (LSA) of the Ministry of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs, the Land for the Landless programme is aimed at addressing the existing housing solution, by offering serviced lots to families, upon which they can construct their own homes, based on the availability of their resources.
The programme will satisfy the demand of the landless by providing residential plots at an affordable price, develop land settlement areas within which eligible squatters may be relocated, utilize state land resources on a sustainable basis giving economic viability while ensuring that social and ecological sustainability are given equal emphasis in the allocation of state land.
In keeping with the Policy of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to pursue State Land distribution to satisfy the demand of the landless poor, and the commitment of the Honourable Prime Minister, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar to ensuring that this Government fulfils the basic and fundamental right of citizens to shelter, the LSA under Act No.25 of 1998, is mandated to create new vacant lots for residential development within already identified State parcels. These have been categorized into four groupings: expansion of existing squatter sites and infill lots, Greenfield development and village expansion inclusive of private land acquisition.
The Land for the Landless programme will be implemented utilizing an incremental approach to development that caters for the economic status of beneficiaries, and will be demand driven as opposed to supply lead.
At the formal launch of the programme, Housing, Land and Marine Affairs Minister, Dr. the Honourable Roodal Moonilal expressed his anxiety to see the first group of landless recipients receive their plots of land, come January, 2013.
Gleaming with pride, and continuing in his vision, Minister Moonilal anticipated “that by the middle of next year, or even earlier, we will see houses on these lands, with our people, and their wives, their husbands, their children, their families, who have been without shelter, or living in extreme and difficult circumstances, for all of their lives, safely and comfortably under their own roofs.”
The Honourable Minister also reminded the audience that while the approach to housing in Trinidad and Tobago, embodies the principle that the government has an important role to play, Government is not to be the sole solution. He said, “We must all recognise the fact that government cannot solve the problem on its own. We fully endorse the need for a full and meaningful partnership of government, the private sector and NGOs.”
Further, the Minister advised the HDC, the Ministry and everyone around him dealing with the housing dilemma, not to be overwhelmed by the huge data base of applicants and to “Consider every housing unit you provide to a citizen as a meaningful fulfilment of your responsibility.” He thanked the management and staff of the LSA, particularly Mr. Hazar Hosein for his passion and drive in bringing this initiative to fruition.
The implementation of the ‘Land for the Landless’ programme will be done by the Land Settlement Agency in partnership with other agencies and Divisions now strategically under the Ministry, including; The Commissioner of State Lands, The Division of Surveys and Mapping, The Housing Development Corporation, The Estate Management Business Development Corporation, The Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Committee, and in collaboration with The Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company Limited.