National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says the Government continues to take proactive steps to tackle the pervasive issue of squatting across Jamaica.
Noting that this challenge has contributed to the social ills affecting the society, including crime and violence, he said addressing it effectively remains a priority for the administration. To this end, the Minister contended that the communities where squatting occurs must be reviewed as part of the Government’s efforts to curb crime in St James and other sections of the island.
“Squatting is an illegal activity. It generates an illegal ecosystem, which generates illegal activities, which eventually leads to killing and murder because [some of] the individuals in those communities… find their own ways to make money and they do it creatively and they make plenty of it,” Chang said.
He was speaking at the press launch for the $1.5 billion Dream 36 housing development, at RIU Montego Bay, St James, on Wednesday (Dec 11).
Chang advised that a programme to adequately upgrade the infrastructure and improve the lives of residents in targeted informal settlements in St. James is far advanced. He said that the move is a critical part of the urban regeneration process.
“Montego Bay has had a major challenge with the evolution of a huge amount of squatting; at one stage, we had about 20 squatter settlements. While they [residents] have created an entrepreneurial spirit, it has created a lot of problems for Montego Bay. This is what we have to seek to correct,” he pointed out.