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Jul 4, 2014

Police move in on squatters in Krooman Lagoon

Two squatters are tonight in detention following a complaint from a reported land owner in the Krooman Lagoon area. The men have been arrested for illegally squatting on private property. According to Officer Commanding Precinct Two of the Belize City Police Department, Superintendent Alford Grinage, the men have not been charged because they are working along with the Ministry of Natural Resources to verify the ownership of the land in question. Early this week, News Five’s Isani Cayetano visited the area and spoke with a squatter and a land owner near Krooman lagoon.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting [File: July 1st, 2014]

Krooman Lagoon, once an expanse of water, wildlife and dense mangrove cover, is fringed on either side by Faber’s Road Extension and the George Price Highway.  It is also situated from the east near the Lord Ridge Cemetery.  But what was previously considered an important rainwater receptacle to its immediate environs is quickly becoming populated by squatters.  Dennis Bradley has been living near the lagoon for the past forty-nine years.

 

Dennis Bradley, Resident, George Price Highway

Dennis Bradley

“I think this is the end of Krooman Lagoon now.  We have been abandoned or disillusioned, disappointed in government’s response to the many times that people fill this place and cut it down.  The Forest Department came back here and inspected the cut down back there and they went off.  Looking at it today, the people continue cutting down the property and as far as I know, that is very illegal to cut down mangrove like that.”

 

One of those individuals is fifty-year-old Ruben Cano.  He has cleared an area of land on which he is presently building a house.  The land grab, he says, is first come, first served.

 

Ruben Cano

Ruben Cano, Squatter

“If somebody else wahn tek it you know weh dah noh from ya, well I think we sorry you know. We have to do something because we are Belizeans. As you can she all coming down that side almost everybody and most of them dah noh from here. You could walk in there and see well that’s why you see I come ya. The try get a land.”

 

Isani Cayetano

How long has it taken you to clear this area, it seems to be a lot of work just chopping down and preparing it.

 

Ruben Cano

“I just clean up the lee piece ya like 50 by 75 more like that. Then deh da other people clean up ya, most people clean over here, people clean over there, they have they land ya for six seven years I think. So I think they too long fi come settle, we noh have no place fih go so we have to try settle down because we dah Belizeans.”

 

According to Bradley, the Krooman Lagoon could have been used for recreational purposes by residents within the area.  Instead it has been cut down, cleared and filled for housing.

 

Dennis Bradley

“I felt that that lagoon could have been a wonderful place of the people, in Fabers Road especially. They could have put a little pier or something like that that people could go out in the evening walk up and down and look at the lagoon because it really was beautiful. It really is a big disappointment to me. It has made the building these people who settle back there, the squatters very easy for them because they drive their trucks straight into the yard and dump their stuff as you can see, dump it right in there as if they were on private property somewhere else and doing a normal development. And I am very disappointing.

 

Cano, when asked what he would do if government should step in and force him to relocate, says that there are hundreds of other families that have settled within the lagoon that should also be dealt with accordingly.

 

Ruben Cano

“When it comes that you have thousands of people to deal with from dah front ‘til he reach to me you understand. Well if he accommodate me with a nice piece of land surely but if no he noh do it for me I noh appreciate it.”

 

The Krooman Lagoon Reserve has been the source of contention for developers, including Belize City businessman Jitendra Chawla, Jack Charles, as he is popularly known, who was in a protracted legal battle with the Government of Belize over the acreage. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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