Party time in Portmore Lane - Residents relieved as the Government aims to move them from being squatters
Residents of Brown's Land, better known as 'Portmore Lane' in south- eastern St Catherine, have welcomed moves by the Andrew Holness administration to regularise their squatter community.
Having occupied the lands for decades, the residents expressed delight when they were told that the Government has acquired the land and they are in line to receive titles for the properties they occupy.
The administration has used the Land Acquisition Act of 1947 to regularise the community "to provide security of tenure for the occupants at Brown's Land (Portmore Lane) in St Catherine ..." it was announced during a post-Cabinet media briefing recently.
Estina Brown, who said she has lived in the community since the 1970s, was among those welcoming the move.
"I came here from Mr Michael (Manley) sweep Jamaica in the 1970s. Only 'peenie wallies' (fireflies) was here. And I have lived here since then. I am very happy to hear this news," said Brown.
The community received regularised electricity several years ago, but Brown said immediate improvements must be made to the water, roads and sewerage system in the area.
ISSUED A WARNING
Her husband, Pastor Harry Brown, who leads the Zion Holiness Church of God in the community, also welcomed the news, even as he issued a warning to his fellow residents.
"The residents need to know that with regularisation comes responsibility. They are going to have to pay property taxes and their properties will have to be developed. And they are going to have to pay their bills," said the pastor as he addressed a small group of residents last Thursday.
Pauline Henry Stephenson was also delighted with the news. "Oh Lord, I feel so good. I am one of those who came here during the peenie wallies days, and for many years I wondered what would happen. And when they started fixing up Carland (a nearby community), we wondered what would happen to us. So this is great news," Henry Stephenson told The Sunday Gleaner.
Fellow resident Hector Fennell said he was the second person to move on to the property when he set up his house there in 1973.
Councillor for the area, Renair Benjamin, said the development is one which he pushed for.
"I wrote to the Government recommending that it be regularised so that the residents can have some security of tenure. It is the strongest division for the Jamaica Labour Party in this constituency, where the member of parliament is (the People's National Party's) Colin Fagan," said Benjamin.