Sun | Oct 2, 2022

Give state lands to descendants of slaves

Published:Tuesday | August 3, 2021 | 12:07 AM


Jamaica is leading other nations of the Caribbean in their quest to get reparations from the British government.

Patricia Duncan-Sutherland, president of the People’s National Party women’s movement, was profound in her remarks in a recently released video: “Our Government should put in place a mechanism to give lands to the descendants of slaves,” she said. This is an idea whose time has come. Long overdue!

Our Government MUST set the example and do for the descendants of slaves what the British government did for former slave owners and their descendants: pay them and give them land.

Here in Jamaica we have thousands of acres of state land – most of it former plantations, most of it idle. Some of these lands must be given to citizens. The current practice of doling out or selling off state land must stop.

Our political leaders should move swiftly and give every family – who is needy and so desires – a half-acre plot of land. This would go a far way to eliminating squatting. These land holders would be on the tax roll and Government would get to collect land tax revenue.

A good start would be to give state lands that are now leased to individuals especially in the sugar belt areas – even if they are given a smaller plot of land than what they now lease.

Finally, Government should move to survey and title every inch of land in Jamaica. And each parish municipality must have some control of state land distribution.