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Illegal settlement being demolished in Bernard Lodge

A major operation is under way Thursday morning to demolish a number of structures constructed illegally near the Clifton community in Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine. 

Speaking in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said gangsters have been capturing lands in the area to create informal subdivisions. 

He said the gangsters have been selling lands under false pretence of ownership or building on the land themselves. 

The Prime Minister explained that the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings had given warning and served notice for persons to cease capturing or illegally constructing on the land but the practice has continued, with "some 30 structures" now identified. 

According to Mr. Holness, the issue poses a security threat to development in the area. 

He insisted the government "wants every Jamaican to be able to own their own home and a piece of Jamaica", but warned that this "must be done orderly and lawfully". 

The Prime Minister said the security forces have been deployed to the area to ensure the demolition goes smoothly and to "treat with any threats from any criminal that may want to interrupt or exercise control or present any obstacle" during the demolition process. 

He said the Jamaica Defence Force has set up a base in the area, and are monitoring with drones and other surveillance.