The Communities Ministry has been given the green-light to immediately start the construction of over 700 housing units across the country for low-income and State employees, a project that will see the Guyana Government expending billions of dollars.This was announced by Cabinet Secretary and Minister of State Joseph Harmon on Friday. He told reporters at a post-Cabinet press briefing that approval was given for some 758 units to be constructed in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five (Mahaica-Berbice), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), Seven (Cuyuni-Some 700 housing units are expected to be constructed across the country within the next 12 monthsMazaruni) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).“These Units are going to be at the cost of $5 billion and is the first phase of a programme to develop low-cost housing, particularly targeting public sector employees, the youths and low-income earners,” Harmon explained.Some of these units will be duplexes and some town houses. This initial phase of the project, the Minister of State added, is expected to start almost immediately and is anticipated to be completed within the space of 12 months.“The important distinction which we want to make is that we are not just distributing house lots, we are building homes within communities for the citizens of this country,” he asserted.According to the Cabinet Secretary, over the next two years, Government will be rolling out more housing developments in several other communities within the country.Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan is on record saying that over the next five years, Government intends to build approximately 4000 houses in cohesive communities to benefit more than 4000 families and approximately 16,000 persons.This move comes as Government attempts to expedite the processing of applications for house lots. In fact, Minister with responsibility for Housing, Valerie Sharpe-Patterson late last year explained that there was an issue with the availability of land in the country and that Government would be moving to begin the construction of apartment complexes by the first quarter of 2017.However, former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali had pointed out to this newspaper that Guyana has enough land across the country, but one of the problems was that persons did not want to relocate from places they grew up or live other locations where the lands are available.Moreover, Ali criticised the project, underscoring the importance of a needs assessment before implementing such a plan. “I don’t think that a proper study has been done in relation to the project, and the idea that we don’t have enough land is because the thinking of Government is concentrated in one area. If you put infrastructure and investment, you are going to open up new opportunities to develop new land. That is a lazy excuse for not continuing to expand the housing sector,” he had related to this publication.According to Ali, if such decisions are going to be made, then some study or analysis of the markets must be carried out.“First of all you need to ensure that people are inclined to go in this direction,” he argued. According to Ali, this new project will most definitely move away from what has been in existence for some time, including the Young Professional Scheme, which had allowed persons to even move to the construction of their own homes.
Govt to fast track multibillion-dollar housing project – Harmon