Gov’t keeps promise to Bath/ Naarstigheid farmers

−back on their land soon

Farmers from the villages of Bath and Naarstigheid, West Coast Berbice, were on Saturday given the assurance that they will be able to access lands they were previously evicted from in 2018.

The Bath/ Naarstigheid Farmers Group gathered at Fort Wellington, West Coast Berbice, today to meet with the Hon. Anil Nandlall, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, who had represented them while in opposition and effectively received a judgment in their favour.

Saturday, the Attorney General said was there to keep a promise made.

“While we were in opposition the REO (Region 5) had dispossessed dozens of cash crop farmers who were occupying those lands, state lands for the past 20/ 25 years. They were granted permission by the RDC and without the authority of the RDC, the REO began to eject them, break down their houses, their little garden huts and ploughed down their crops and beat them, physically assault them. I had appeared for them in the court, I took the REO to court and won the case,” AG Nandlall recounted.

He said on the campaign trail, then Presidential candidate, now President, His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, also promised the farmers relief.

“The President, when he spoke at the rally at Bath Settlement made a promise to the farmers that we will put them back on the land, so now that we are in Government, I came to deliver on that promise,” the Attorney General stated.   

Previously, Justice Simone Ramlall awarded special damages of $5.3 Million to the three farmers who had sued the Region Five Chief Executive Officer.

Justice Ramlall had declared that the Claimants; Krishna Sewlall, Kristopher Sewnarine and Kaleel Jameer were entitled to remain in possession and occupation of the portion of land situated at Tract “X” of Block ‘1A’ and Tract “Y’ portion of Plantation of Naarstigheid, known also as (Lot Number 17), Bath, West Coast Berbice, Guyana.

Justice Ramlall had also declared that the Defendant, the Region Five Chief Executive Officer’s interference with the Claimants’ possession and occupation of the said land in April and August 2018, constituted trespass by the Defendant.

Following the meeting at Fort Wellington, the AG then visited residents of Kingelly Village, West Coast Berbice, who have an ongoing land dispute with veteran trade Unionist, Lincoln Lewis.

In that matter, residents said Lewis was attempting to seize hundreds of acres of land at Kingelly which they have occupied, some for more than 80 years. Lewis’ argument is that the lands are ancestral properties dating back to the 1960s.

However, AG Nandlall assured the residents that now that the Peoples Progressive Party was at the helm of Government, he will continue to fight on their behalf.

“Again, while we were in opposition, I received complaints from these residents that Lincoln Lewis claims the whole village and is harassing the residents… I came here, met with the residents, at that time we were not in government and I used whatever mechanism I had and we went to court and got prescriptive titles granted for about 20 of them.” AG Nandlall noted.  

He said the process was indeed expensive and other ways of dealing with the matter will be explored.

“It is an expensive exercise, the surveyor’s fees alone are about $ 75 thousand or $ 80 thousand alone and then you have to pay a lawyer to go to court, you have to place the order in the official gazette, the Chronicle or Stabroek News, it is quite an expensive exercise, now that we are in Government we can commit to regularising because the land belongs to the state and issue transport or titles,” Mr. Nandlall stated.   

Eighty-four-year-old- Persaud-Siviebadan, who got his prescriptive title told the DPI he was born and lived on his property all his life.

Note: Prescriptive Title grants certain rights to a property by those who have made use of that property for an extended period of time. In Guyana, that period is 12 years without interruption or incident.  According to Attorney General Nandlall when a Prescriptive Title application is filed, it is made public and anyone can come forward to oppose the application, once there is opposition (the rightful owner comes forward) the title would not be granted.

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