On Saturday morning, SCJ Holdings Limited was accused of committing a “wicked act” by demolishing the homes of 15 families at Innswood Estates in St Catherine. The media including the Jamaica Gleaner visited the Innswood Estates on Saturday and spoke with the affected residents.
According to SCJ Holdings Limited (SCJH), on October 2, 2013, entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with Silversun Homes Limited (SHL) for the construction of a housing development on approximately 70 hectares of land part of Innswood, St. Catherine.
Occupying parts of these lands were estate houses which were then occupied by certain persons who had no title, right or interest in the land. During their occupation, these residents occupied the land rent-free and benefited from the electricity and water supply paid for by SCJH.
“In 2014, SCJH met with the Red Hills Residents to advise them of the plans for the development of the land, which would involve their ultimate removal from the Innswood Land. “Following the meetings, SCJH offered to assist the Red Hills Residents to facilitate their relocation from the land to an alternative location. After much negotiation, they agreed to accept the offer to be relocated to Ebony Park, St. Catherine.
Following the consensus on the location, in the presence of their attorney-at-law, the residents were asked to execute a Deed of Release and Discharge in May 2020 and did so willingly”, Shoucair outlined.
The SCJH Managing Director highlighted that, along with the assistance of Food for the Poor Jamaica, and at great cost to the company, they saw to the construction of ten (10) housing units on land at Ebony Park, equipped with electricity from the Jamaica Public Service Company and water from National Water Commission. As an interim measure, due to the low pressure in the NWC line, the Company has also provided each resident with a tank for the storage of water.
Shoucair outlined that misleading reports in the media have stated that 15 families were removed and without notice, however, a consideration of the facts would reveal that as of February 9, 2021, all but the occupants of four (4) of the structures at Red Hills had relocated to Ebony Park in keeping with their commitment in May 2020.
Despite our best efforts to have the remaining occupants, whose possession has prevented the SCJH from being able to grant the buyer vacant possession, to vacate the lands; there was no alternative but using the legal options available”, he explained.
Shoucair went further to state that the SCJH has committed to getting titles for all the relocated persons and that process has already begun. He stated that the company has been working to formalize and streamline the use of government lands under its management through leases and formal agreements, but he has noticed persons are attempting to exact unreasonable sums and hold the Agency at ransom despite efforts to amicably resolve disputes.
He has dismissed claims that personal items were damaged in the operation on Saturday morning and lamented that the reports were so grossly inaccurate as it relates to the facts. Shoucair thanked the families who relocated and have settled in Ebony Park in keeping with their agreement in 2020 and maintained that the SCJH will be assisting them as indicated in securing titles for the land and completing the development of the new community.
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