Harmonyville is one step closer to becoming a reality
Months of efforts by a Belizean grass roots organization to acquire the area now known as Harmonyville and parcel it off into one-acre packages is finally seeing some tangible results. At its next monthly meeting on Sunday at the location at mile forty-one on the Western Highway, President of the Belize Grass Roots Youth Empowerment Association, Nigel Petillo, will hand out certificates to a hundred and sixty three individuals who have paid for their surveys. The certificates are proof that the surveys have taken place and that phase one is now complete at the site and Petillo says access roads have already been established, with some investment.
Nigel Petillo, President, Belize Grass Roots Youth Empowerment Association
“A hundred and sixty-three people wah see dehn piece, dehn four corners, dehn peg, deh wah receive wah letter from we with dehn lot number. This is based on the investment they have put in the survey, based on the fact that they have paid their money. We realize that people also need access to their land, so we went ahead and push in roads—grader some roads and what not, so that people could get out deh. What we should have done was, at this meeting, was to inform people of our intentions to put in roads and then she hear what, mek we come together and see how we could cover up the expense of this. I apologize for that. So Sunday right yah we di look fi explain to everybody that if each person could chip in fifty dollars, we could cover back the expense of those roads and with that we could also clean up the drains and the buffer areas in the community. Harmonyville dah noh wah piece of land weh wah di sit down dehn and we wah di wait fi government fi come push roads or we wah wait fi government come give we water, or government give we light.”
Now that the first batch of certificates will be handed out, Petillo says that acquiring the land will come at some cost to the applicants. It’s an entire shift from the initial understanding that the land would come at practically no cost to own it, but Petillo says the government has had a different take.
“Now weh gone on now, the government gone ahead and acquire the land as government land when we gone out deh and claim this land. We gone and claim adverse possession, right. Anyway, in good faith, to work with the government after we realize what di happen, they tell us it’s based on our recommendations, our management of this thirteen hundred acres, they wah mek the land available to us for the sake of ensuring that each individual could get their title, mek ih noh end up like wah Mahogany Heights project. Yoh wah get title eventually. Yoh have to develop yoh land as lease, when yoh get wah piece ah lease land, the step from there is to develop yoh land and then apply fi title. I believe we wah pay no more than two thousand dollars fi wah property out deh, fi wah acre of land. That’s right. I see land di sell fi dehn price deh at an acre. Why you can’t do it fi yoh poor people? We want dah land paper deh, so we have something. The government will charge we fi the land. But we prepared fi stand up as wah people and she we believe this dah the cost, we have done our valuation, the land was sold already. Yoh tek back this amount of land the land based pan the tax. Mek we work round that figure deh.”
“Weh kinda assurance you could give people weh done pay fi the survey that listen, the goal post noh wah change again. Yoh done pay yoh survey, you’re expected fi pay quote unquote two thousand or less. But how you wah ensure as the leader of BGYEA that this figure noh just going up again pan we fi discourage we from being a group in the area?”
“We wah get legal advice. With the community strength again; that dah weh I di emphasize pan, yoh know. That dah the whole idea yah.”
“And how is the community treating…”
“Well I must say it’s getting stronger, we di walk Belmopan Streets, we di walk Belize City, we di walk dah Cayo, Dangriga, the strength deh deh. We di try mek yoh realize that wah one-acre piece of land could work fi yoh, instead ah you work fi yoh piece ah land. Belize City, Marion, you goh try buy wah house lot right now dah bout forty thousand yoh wah pay dat dah because yoh gone dah the bank already. Now yoh need fi build yoh house pan it. You’re going back to the bank sister. So now you’re going to find yourself working for that piece of land, versus what we’re trying to tell you that here you could build yoh piece of land, yoh could put wah lee farming pan the side, yoh could put wah next business pan the side – the size ah land could mek life be much easier fi yoh.”
Petillo says that within another few weeks the lease papers will be forthcoming from the government for surveyed lands. Sunday’s meeting starts at ten in the morning.