Castries South MP Dr. Ernest Hilaire has planned a series of community meetings in his constituency to regularise land ownership in unplanned settlements.
“Land ownership is a priority for me in my constituency,” Hilaire, who is currently acting Prime Minister, told reporters on Monday.
“We have already started. You look at the old cemetery, you look at Millennium Highway, Goodlands, La Toc, parts of Marigot, we have unplanned settlements. Some persons have been living on lands for 30-40 year so I have actually been touring the constituency with the Commissioner of Crown Lands to identify the Crown lands that people are living on now that they have been living there for a very long time and to see how we can regularise ownership and when the resources become available we can improve the infrastructure in those communities,” he explained.
On building codes and safety, Hilaire observed that this was a ‘massive issue’ not limited to Castries South and something that the Ministry of Planning has to examine.
“But as you can understand, when somebody is desperate for some form of shelter and they want to build a little plywood house – if we just think about it as Saint Lucians, you grow up in a house, a small plywood house, mother had 2-3 children, two boys, a girl, they all become in their early twenties – they want their own space too,” the Minister, responsible for Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information asserted.
“You can’t continue to live in your mother’s house in your twenties. You want your own privacy, your own development. So what do they do? They have an urge to build something for themselves. So usually in the neighbourhood on an empty piece of land, they build their own plywood house,” he observed.
However, Hilaire admitted serious issues are involved as some people build on slopes with no guttering to facilitate water flow from rainfall.
He stated that the matter involves serious social and cultural issues that need addressing.
“And the Ministry of Planning will have to come up with solutions to it. But the easiest thing to do is to just build a little plywood house nearby and it becomes your own shelter. It says that we need to build more low cost housing and I know the Minister of Housing, Honourable Richard Frederick has said a lot about the plans he has and we are actually discussing how we can use CIP to fund some of the housing like is done in Dominica,” Hilaire told reporters.
“It means the CIP must become bigger and better than what it was in the past,” he explained.