GLSC hands over lease to National Toshaos Council
The Guyana Lands and Surveys (GL&SC) on Tuesday presented a lease to the National Toshaos Council (NTC) for a plot of land identified at Sophia. The land will occupy the secretariat of the National Toshaos Council. The Indigenous leaders, during the 2016 NTC conference, had requested a plot of land from the Government to construct its long-awaited Secretariat.
During a briefing handing over ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner and Chief Executive of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Mr. Trevor L. Benn, reminded that the GLSC had expedited the request of the NTC to have the land available. “There has been a lease available since February for the National Toshaos Counil” he said while addressing the Toshaos and Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe at the simple ceremony.
Mr. Benn, also called for greater dialogue between the GLSC and the NTC, noting that, that is the only way a number of land related issues affecting the indigenous communities could be addressed. “We at the GLSC have an open door policy and we are prepared to work with you to have your issues addressed, we may not be able to do so individually but as a body, I can assure you that we are going to look closely at the land related issues affecting your various communities”. He assured. To this end, Mr. Benn, also pledged the support of the legal section of the GLSC to assist the NTC on land related matters they may encounter.
The Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and the National Toshaos Council, will be working together to identify a larger plot of land for the establishment of a complex that would include dormitories to accommodate toshaos, conference rooms and other facilities as promised by President David Granger earlier this year.
Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Hon.Valarie Garrido-Lowe, praised the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission for expediting the process on behalf of the NTC and also called for a better working relationship between the GLSC and the NTC, “That is the only way the matters we hear about daily about your lands are going to be addressed, you cannot have two and three persons sharing different views on a matter and expect that it will be addressed” She said. “ Meet with your people, sit as a council, and then raise concrete issues with the lands commission so that those matters could be addressed and be addressed speedily” The Minister advised.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the National Toshaos Council Mr. Nicholas Fredricks , expressed his willingness to work hand in hand with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to advance the relationship between the two bodies. Mr. Fredricks pointed out that in most indigenous communities the burning issue is about land and therefore, he said, the GLSC is a crucial partner in advancing the development of the indigenous communities. “If we look at most of the indigenous communities today, one of the most consistent issues is that of land, most persons have issues with their lands and because of this, development is slow in some of those communities because there are not so much you can do on disputed lands” he reasoned. “So my fellow colleagues we see the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission as a very important partner that will aid in our development and we must be prepared to work with them to have those issues affecting us addressed”. He said.
Mr. Fredricks, also thanked the GLSC for fast-tracking the NTC’s lease pointing out that it signals the beginning of great things to come for the indigenous peoples. “So much we can do with our own secretariat, our own land and this is just the beginning of great things to come,” he said.
Toshaos from the various Indigenous communities, raised a number of land related issues with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, the commission, through Mr. Benn, as promised that those issues will be looked and be addressed once if falls within the ambit of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.