By Alexis R. Milan
A group of 12 families in the Gungulung area of Lake Independence who have been squatting on private land near the Chetumal Street bridge, and were threatened with court action if they did not move by the end of this week, have been given a one month extension by the private land owner.
According to Steve Perrera, attorney for the land owner, his client has agreed to grant an extension for the eviction date to be set to the 15th of May. Those who move before that date will also receive a $1,000 compensation from the landowner to assist with their relocation, he said.
Earlier this week, area representative Mark King stepped in and tried to assist by offering the squatters by offering them land in Cotton Tree made available through the Ministry of Natural Resources. Some had agreed but others have said they cannot afford to go so far from the City where they work and their children go to school.
Many of the squatters claim to have been living on the land for up to five or six years in some cases but the landowner has held the title for the six acre plot of riverfront land for the last five years. Some of them requested that the government purchase the land so they could keep their homes and compensate the landowner with the land in Cotton Tree instead but GOB can only acquire land for public purposes.
King said he has done all that he could because the landowner is not obliged to give up his property. King added that those who wanted the land in Cotton tree would still have to go through the regular application process and said the squatters should be preparing to move.