Only last week Plus News visited the community at Harmonyville on the George Price Highway along with BIGYEA leaders to bring to national attention the squatting problems that the community is experiencing.
The squatting continues to persist even though three years have past since the plot of land was surveyed and subsequently issued to old and new residents. Recently Big Yeah signed agreements with various investors to help develop some roads in the community.
One investor will get to plant corn in the buffer while another will get to remove valuable timber in exchange for roads.
On Wednesday Government Officials, the Police, and harmonyville community leaders visited the residents who are squatting within the buffer zone of the community and issued evacuation papers. It is not the first of such activity, but according to Big Yeah president, Nigel Petillo, says that these documents that the residents have been issued, gives the squatters two weeks to remove themselves and their structures from the buffer zone.
“Finally, the government and the police took a step to us, attending the situation at the buffer zone. As we all know that for quite some time now, about three years, we have issued letters to those people, informing them that they have to vacate the buffer. However, those who were there at the time, when we went over there, we allocated land for them to make sure that when they move out of the buffer, they have a piece of land each. Now, that is the end of the community on the next lot which will be the next street. Today, we went there with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Police Department, we issued out letters again, informing them that they have two weeks to move out of the buffer, and for those 4-5 individuals who were there in the initial stages of BYGEA, we have left land aside for them. However, they do need to pay their expenses just like everybody (the road fee, survey fees, membership fees, etc, and they will be issued official land documents that the government that says , they have an acre of land at Harmonyville”.
Petillo says that Wednesday’s exercise was met with mixed reactions. When the squatters were issued their evacuation orders, some asked about the one acre plots that were assigned to them. Others, however, issued threats in exchange for their evacuation notices.
Nigel Petillo: “However, there are some of those who dih tek this ting personal, telling me that I dih sing my death with and committing suicide and have you know that nowhere in this country, nowhere in the world, you could just go and sit down pah wa pis a land and claim it by building a pis a house or do sonting. Tudehone a dih villidsha as wih, who wa pay fih di house? Who told you to build in the buffer or that that land is yours? Luckily, we are here to ensure that you get one piece, but you need to adhere to the laws and regulations of this country just like any Belizean. We are hoping that they will come to our office and sort it out, so that I could take them to lands Department and have them get their land documents. Harmonyville are going to give back to them who were there”.
Three years ago at the time of the first issuance, there were only about 5 squatters. Today that number has more than doubled but BigYeah says those original 5 families will still be issued a one acre parcel of land in Harmonyville.