Minister Cordel Hyde is in Dangriga meeting with residents who may have land concerns. Minister Hyde arrived at the Town Hall just after ten o’clock this morning where he was met by hundreds of residents. Correspondent Harry Arzu was at the site since five o’clock this morning where dozens were already lined up. Here is his report.
Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Dangriga Town Hall earlier this morning who patiently awaited the arrival of the Minister of Natural Resources Honorable Cordel Hyde in an effort to address their land related matters. Earlier in the morning before the minister arrived there was a bit of chaos as a crowd of people rushed toward some of the members of the organizing team ignoring the COVID protocol. However with the assistance of the police officers the crowd was brought under control. Moreover when the Minister arrived on the scene he was excited to see such a large gathering. He spoke with us about his visit to his Municipality.
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “As you know it’s always a big challenge for ordinary people to reach Belompan and to navigate the processes that it entails applying for a piece of land or to address whatever issue that may exist and so this is one of our manifesto commitment to make sure that we take the Lands Department to the people, go into their communities so that they don’t have to come to us in Belmopan we go to them. At the end of the day it’s about people power and about ensuring that the people have the access to the service they pay for the service every single day by way of taxes and we must make sure that they get their money’s worth, their value for the taxes that they pay and it’s about making sure that ordinary first time land owners get an opportunity and that’s what this is about. It’s the first of many and we had a massive crowd, nobody could have expected that it would be this big but we’re gonna do our best to see everybody and who we don’t see today we’ll come back next week and finish because we’re committed to this, it’s not a one off thing.”
Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: So you know that we had people not only from Dangriga but from nearby communities.
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “Yeah I mean they’re all Belizeans right ? And so once we are here and they come we will see them. We will do our best to see them all. We don’t know what all will be the issues that people bring to us. You have people who have issues with the Lands Department for the last ten, fifteen, twenty years, you have people who may be interested in a piece of land, you have people who just want to gather information we don’t know but whatever is their issue we will try to address it here. We have a full complement of staff here from the Ministry and so we’ll try to deal with them in real time.”
Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: In relation to first time owners do we have a lot of land here in Dangriga ?
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “We don’t. It’s a big problem in Dangriga much like we have in Belize City where there’s not any land really – government land – so some people will have to be willing to get land outside of the main town whilst we try to figure out how we can get some land in this particular municipality.”
Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: The large crowd of people who came out to see Minister Hyde were so eager to get their land issued addressed. Some of them are interested in a house lot while others want to farm. We spoke with a few of them.”
Resident 1: “I need a piece of farm land because I need to get into the farming. Plant cassava, my coconut you know and all those things so we can survive me and my family.”
Resident 2: “My purpose here is for a piece of farm land because right now I want to plant my own food where I can eat my own food and prepare for my grand children because they’re coming so that we can do farming and get their life easier because the COVID changed everything right now but although we’re going to get vaccination it’s still going to be the same way I know that.”
Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: So what do you intend to do with this piece of land ?
Resident 2: “Well I’ll plant it out.”