10 Belize City families who were told last week that they had a week to move will be moving to new properties in the area of Cotton Tree, Cayo District. But it has come to light that there are many more families living in the area of the Lake Independence Boulevard-Chetumal Street in the Lake Independence division who say they need help too. Today area representative Mark King made clear that those families who came to him for help were those directly affected by the eviction notices, and while squatting is illegal, the immediacy of their situation prompted his intervention
Hon. Mark King – Area Representative – Lake-I
“The whole situation ordeal is not a government situation, it’s not even a situation for me, to be honest with you. I’ve said to people across the length and breadth of this country, I’ve echoed the sentiments of the lands department from way back, that squatting is illegal. At some point somebody is going to come for their land and then you have to move. It’s not the government that will come for your land, it’s the private owner who will come for your land and so to make all that investment and then somebody comes and claim their land is obvious that it will cost you a whole pile of pain. In terms of what I did yesterday, was to be compassionate to these people – to say also to everybody else. These were the people that were being evicted.”
For the remaining families, King says they must recognize that they have to move because the land squeeze affecting Belize City means that property owners in the Lake Boulevard area are moving to assert their rights.
“I have explained, I will not make squatting legal and I have explained yesterday that this is not the signal for people to think for one second that I am going back on my word that we have zero tolerance for squatting policy. I have confirmed that with the Lands Department today. The reason the present ones are being helped is because they have been served their eviction notice, so deh dah the ones weh need to move now. The other ones, nobody evicted them yet man. There is a lot more, I don’t have the numbers and I won’t do any check. I have said to people over and over, I’ve even issued letters of notice dah back deh, I’ve even issued stop orders to stop building, for people to come into the land department or my office to apply. People that are not listening, man I wah cant do nothing more for you because when the private owner comes; the land dah noh for Mark King, dah noh for the government and we wi self can’t do nothing about it. “
King says he does not know if Government has any more land to give away in Cotton Tree, but residents of the division can still benefit from the Land Amnesty Program for first-time land owners.
Hon. Mark King
“I have no knowledge of that. What I do have knowledge of is that the Government and under the Lake – I land amnesty programs, I will be bringing more land to give away not in Lake – I, not in Belize City but where ever the government finds land. The land amnesty program will be continuously giving away hundreds of lands but you have to come in and apply. So when they become available, your name is already hear and your alright. So when they come to evict you, you done gone.
“So everyone should get use to the idea that they will have to move at some point?”
Hon. Mark King
“That is precisely the truth and if you tell them a lie, they will find out anyway because the eviction notice will come from the court.”
The leaseholders in Cotton Tree will have their papers by the end of this week.