Environment

Gov't to give residents land titles after 30-year wait

BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime and Court desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2012    

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STATE minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Julian Robinson has promised dozens of residents, who were relocated by bauxite companies in Clarendon and Manchester, that the government is moving to cut through red tape to make it easier for them to get land titles by next year.

The residents sold their bauxite-rich lands in the Mocho Mountains in Clarendon and in Harmons, Manchester, decades ago, but have not been handed their titles by the government due to a series of problems.

However, Robinson, who led a fact-finding mission with representatives from the National Works Agency (NWA), National Environmental Planning Agency (NEPA) and bauxite company Jamalco, along with member of parliament for south west Clarendon Noel Arscott, and Mayor of May Pen Scean Barnswell, promised to set a process in motion to put an end to the long wait the disgruntled residents have had to endure.

According to Robinson, the process was complex.

"The NWA needed information from Jamalco which they have received. They have to provide a recommendation...which, within with another week or so they will be in a position to provide one. It has to go to NEPA.

"NEPA then has to make a recommendation which has to go to the parish council. We are hoping for that to get to the next parish council meeting, which is the second Thursday in December. After the parish council goes through its process, it has to go to the ministry of Environment. We are hoping to have that by January. We are hoping to have the outstanding issues resolved by February," Robinson told concerned residents.

He, however, made sure to point out that there was no guarantee that the land titles would be handed over to residents in February, but said the process would be less complicated once the red tape had been reduced.

Robinson is the chairman of the land titling board which is mandated to fast-track the process and bring closure to the weary residents.

But Robinson's words were of little comfort to Cordell Manning, who relocated from the Mocho Mountains to Belle Plain in the parish more than 30 years ago and was still without a title for her land.

"I would love to get my title and get on the tax roll, but how can I pay taxes without a title?" Manning asked.

Her neighbour Eva Smith is a returning resident who bought her land from someone who had been relocated.

Smith was very upset that, after having spent her hard-earned money to buy land and build a home, she is still without proof that she is the rightful owner of the property.

"I have been paying my taxes. Shouldn't we get back all that money like how we have no titles?" Smith asked.

The delegation also went to the districts of Beckford Kraal and McGilchrist Palms where the concerns were the same.

The disgruntled homeowners also complained that they had no roads, poor drainage and no street lights and pleaded with Robinson and Arscott for assistance.

According to Edna Carridice — who relocated from Harmons in Manchester to Clarendon in 2005 — the community is prone to flooding.

"You see when the rain fall, the water come from the canal, the water come from the back, the water come from the front. We ask Jamalco to fix the drains and all now they don't come. We can't live like this much longer," Carridice said.

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