LSA Distributes Certificates of Comfort to over 200 persons
On the 21st of May, the Centre of Excellence had the atmosphere of a graduation exercise. There was subdued expectation, relief and jubilation in the air, all this from over 400 persons ranging in ages and levels of mobility.
The occasion was the Land Settlement Agency and the Ministry of Housing and the Environment’s distribution of over 400 Certificates of Comfort to former squatters on state land.
The ceremony marked for the agency the distribution of 1200 Certificates of Comfort in two (2) years, this in response to 12,000 applicants.
The Minister of Housing and the Environment, Dr. the Honourable Roodal Moonilal in delivering the feature address linked the regularization process to the Government’s seven inter-connected pillars for sustainable development, in particular, pillars one and two, which are people- centered development and poverty eradication and social justice target programmes.
The Minister challenged the Land Settlement Agency to remove the legal impediments and bureaucratic red tape in order to move the regularization process forward.
Dr. Moonilal referred to consideration being given to a “land for the landless” programme which is expected to yield some ten thousand lots over the next three years and create jobs for thousands of persons and small contractors in the construction industry.
The highlight of the morning’s ceremony was the presentation of a Certificate of Comfort to eighty-seven (87) year old Geraldine Francis who placed her application in 2000. Ms. Francis a grandmother of twenty-five (25), has been squatting on the state lands for over twenty (20) years.
Geraldine Francis, self-described as a God-fearing woman, thanked God and the Land Settlement Agency for providing her with comfort in her “old age”.
What is a Certificate of Comfort?
A Certificate of Comfort is a document which gives a squatter a personal right to protection from ejectment from State Land.
Any squatter who was in occupation of land prior to January 01st 1998 could have made an application for a COC on or before October 17th 2000 as prescribed by the State Land (Regularization of Tenure) Act 25 of 1998. The Land Settlement Agency received over twenty-three (23,000) applications for Certificates of Comfort.
Obtaining a certificate of Comfort is actually the first step in a three stage process towards a squatter ultimately attaining security by a way of a deed of lease.