Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2021. 7:59 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Monday’s confrontation between residents of the Krooman Lagoon area between Fabers Road and the George Price Highway and landowner and businessman Jitendra Chawla, alias ‘Jack Charles,’ who blocked the entrance to their homes with boulders as part of his claim on the territory, could have been solved long ago if neither had claimed the land, Collet area representative and Leader of the Opposition Patrick Faber said today.
So, while he sympathizes with their plight, his view is that neither should be settling in the area, which is an important geographical feature of Belize City.
It is not true, Faber began, that he has promised the Krooman Lagoon squatters that the situation would be “normalized” and they could stay there; every successive opponent of his in the People’s United Party (PUP), he claimed, have done so.
Charles’ business operation is located on the highway, but Faber revealed that there was a settlement with Charles that awarded him that portion of the land that extended into the lagoon that he, Faber, as area representative, was not consulted on. It is his position that the land should not have been awarded in the first place; that it must not be developed now; and the squatters should not stay there.
“That is not a safe place to be, and as the area representative, while I have not led a campaign to remove those people for obvious reasons, I cannot and have never supported them staying there. It is a health hazard, it continues to be a problem – because again, the utility companies don’t go in and put in the necessary poles and water lines because it’s on a lagoon. And yes, there are some times when it is dry and you believe it is land that can be developed, but the experts have come and studied [it] tremendously to say that it is not safe; it is a catchment area for the entire city,” said Faber, adding that the already established encroachments must not be allowed to continue if we want the lagoon to stay.
Faber said that there must be a proactive move to relocate settlers, acknowledging that he may be to blame by those who say they are being rewarded for illegally settling on what is reserved land. There was an effort made to approach the residents during a time of flooding in the area to be relocated to land identified in Cotton Tree, Cayo District, but they opted to stay, and Faber said he did not pressure them.
It is inhumane, Faber concluded, to block the residents from getting to their homes, but he is prepared to work with the Central and local government, the Belize City Council, to address the issue.
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