The City Mayor is not the only one frowning on the issue of squatters in the Krooman Lagoon area. The Krooman Lagoon falls within the Collet Division headed by Leader of the Opposition, Patrick Faber. According to Faber the issue has been broiling for some years now and it was exacerbated when his government gave businessman, Jack Charles additional lands in the area without consulting him. He told the media today that someone had to now bite the bullet and get those people out of the area.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition: “There is nowhere on record that you will find me as the area representative for the last going on nineteen years promise the people who have squatted on Krooman Lagoon that things will be normalized and that they will be allowed to stay there. Nowhere on record can you find that so let me begin there. It was the People’s United Party who continuously every election starting with Remejio Monteo down to Carolyn Trench Sandiford she used that as something to get votes and my most recent opponents – every election we have a different one I’ve lost track Shoman and Oscar Arnold, who have promised those persons living on Krooman Lagoon that there will be some kind of normalizing of the situation. My position has always been very clear and I will say this not only as it relates to the person who live on the lagoon but those who live on the periphery. Jack Charles’s plant if you will, his business was always on the highway and there was a time in the past in fact when the question came up of him owning additional lands that extended into the lagoon and my position at that time, in fact there was a dispute within my own party because unbeknown to me there was some settlement with Jack Charles and they allotted him legally the portion of the land that actually extends into the lagoon without consultation with me as the area rep and I made known my position then. So if you ask me even the portion that Jack Charles is now claiming that is not on the periphery of highway and extends back into the lagoon should never have been distributed and my position as it relates to persons who continuously squat on the lagoon that is not a safe place to be and as the area representative while I have not led a campaign to remove those people for obvious reasons I cannot and have never supported them staying there. It is a health hazard.”
Faber went on to cite the many issues that administrators have had to families taking up residence in the Krooman area.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition: “The utility companies don’t go in and put in the necessary poles and water lines because it’s on a lagoon and yes there are some times when its dry and you believe that it is land that can be developed but the experts have come and they have studied the situation tremendously to say it is not safe, it is a catchment area for the entire city in fact. So if that portion of land is developed and the lagoon is filled in and there have been many encroachments already including Jack Charles then that is going to spell a problem later on. I think that what is required and I am willing to take that kind of blame if that is what people want to hear that there needs to be a proactive move to try to move those persons who reside on the lagoon and to find them some other place. The complaints would come loudly then that those are people who have squatted there knowing fully well that that was not land that was to be distributed. It is reserve land in fact, the government has put that land on reserve and they should not have settled there. There are Belizeans who want a piece of land who can’t get it and if you go and reward so to speak those who settle there there will be problems but somebody needs to bite the bullet indeed. When it was that we had the terrible flood some years ago and the coast guard and the BDF had to go in there by boat to rescue some of the residents who had become trapped the government made an attempt, I made an attempt as area rep to say to those folks let us try to relocate you. The Prime Minister at the time promised us some land made available for use some land in the Cotton Tree area I think and I had meetings with the residents who live on the lagoon to say to them we can help to relocate you .We at the time though that we could get the armed forces to assist in helping to move the homes – what was left of them because much of them were destroyed already with the flooding and we would provide some materials from housing grants that were being given at the time, the people opted to stay and I did not pressure them to move for the same reason that I would appeal to Jack Charles to move the boulders now: that is inhumane.”