More titles for north-eastern parishes
MORE than 80 residents in Portland, St Mary and St Ann joined some 800 people who have received certificates of land title registration in the north-eastern parishes in recent months.
The residents received the titles at the National Land Agency Land Titling ceremony held at the St Mary Parish Church Hall in Port Maria, St Mary last Thursday.
A cadastral mapping and land registration project carried out by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) played a big role in the titling of lands in schemes in the three parishes. A total of 1,008 parcels were surveyed under the project with the titles issued in the name of the Commissioner of Lands, which are ultimately to be transferred into the names of allottees, according to Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill.
Communities which benefited are Llangley, Quebec, Salisbury, Fort Stewart and Fort George and the Tryall schemes in St Mary; Devon, Bradfield and Crescent Park, Faith's Pen and Vinewood schemes in St Ann; and Achovy, Kildare and Low Leyton schemes in Portland.
Excited residents packed the church hall to collect their titles a day before the celebration of Emancipation Day which was a symbol of freedom for many.
Keynote speaker at the ceremony Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller told the packed church hall that there were days when it was not possible for many Jamaicans to have certificates of land title.
She told the recipients that the titles should be seen as a tribute to their ancestors who worked as slaves.
"It means independence... it means pride; pride that you can leave a legacy for your children for generations to come," Simpson Miller said, adding, "the journey to where we are today, where you can receive a land title, did not come easy".
The smiles on the faces of the recipients, which included several elderly people, revealed the joy they felt in finally becoming property owners.
"I feel overjoyed. We live on this land for over 20 years in Anchovy Land Settlement and we feel so good because at least we can go ahead and do what we want to do," Jacqueline Johnson, a resident from Portland told the Jamaica Observer North East, after collecting her title.
Farmer Everaude Peart said he has been farming on a plot of land from the 1970s and was overjoyed to be able to finally show ownership of the Jeffery Town property in St Mary.
"We have been working on it (farming on the land) from about 1873 and I am so excited," he said.
The sentiments of these residents resounded around the St Mary Parish Church Hall on Thursday.
For one resident, obtaining a title was specifically for his children as he wanted to be able to leave a legacy for them.
"I feel good and I bought this land directly for my children," Delroy Barrett said.
Some 80 persons who are still in the process of paying for their lands were issued with notices of allotment, an indication that they will receive their titles as soon as they are finished clearing the outstanding balances.
As the residents celebrated becoming land owners, Minister Pickersgill used the occasion to urge farmers not to light fires to clear lands in these north-eastern parishes which rely heavily on farming.
He pointed out that since the start of the year there were almost 5,600 bush fires recorded in the island, 233 of these were in St Mary and 633 in St Ann. While the numbers are staggering he pointed out that St Catherine recorded over 1,000 bush fires.
"Every drop of water counts at this time," Pickersgill said, adding, "it makes no sense to be using our limited supply of water to fight fires."
Based on predictions, Pickersgill said the situation could get worse before it gets better.