Regularisation exercise to resolve land issues in Cotton Tree– President still concerned about absentee landlords

Georgetown, GINA, August 23, 2013

An unresolved issue of land occupation that has been perpetuated for years in Cotton Tree on the West Coast of Berbice is expected to be corrected after a land regularisation exercise gets underway.

At the behest of President Donald Ramotar, a process will soon commence for residents to obtain titles to lands they occupy after following through with a land registration process that is enshrined in the country’s laws.

President Donald Ramotar interacting with residents of Cotton Tree on the West Coast of Berbice during a community meeting

When complete, the exercise will resolve finally the age old issue of many residents in the Region Five community occupying lands with little or no evidence that their occupation is legitimate.

 

President Ramotar explained that his instruction to rectify the situation stemmed from concerns following the numerous reports he had been receiving about the matter that seemed to have exacerbated.

President Donald Ramotar being garlanded upon arrival at the Cotton Tree Primary School, Region Five for a community meeting

“Lands were given out to people… some of them sold out but no title was passed to them. Some of them (owners) died without passing any title, some migrated and… over the years that this problem has been here it was festering and beginning to cause some problems in the community itself,” President Ramotar told Cotton Tree residents at a community meeting this afternoon.

The authorities felt that the situation in the community was conflicting with the opportunities afforded by Government for people to gain easy access to land for housing, agriculture and ultimately a better quality of life. It was also seen as a situation counterproductive to democracy.

 

“We don’t want to have a lot of illegalities (like) illegal squatting and so forth… this government has given over one hundred thousand house lots all over this country since we have been in office. We are opening lands in different places, for people to do agriculture, and even creating lands for… those who want to get involved in business,” President Ramotar said.

Cotton Tree, Region Five residents in conversation with President Donald Ramotar and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud and other officials

An absentee landlord, particularly those who charge exorbitant fees to tenants for property that is oftentimes illegally occupied, is still a hanging concern, President Ramotar opined.

“I have asked the authorities both within the ministries and the MMA level to try to bring these things to an end,” President Ramotar said.

The land regularisation exercise earmarked for Cotton Tree will be completed when a Certificate of Title is awarded to the occupant by a Commissioner of Title who is a Land Court Judge confirming rightful ownership.

The process which falls Under the Land Registry Act, begins with the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment affixing his signature to an order declaring the area a land registration area.

 

The public is then notified about surveyors appointed by the Commissioner of Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) to conduct surveys in the company of Land Court Clerks who will record the peculiarities of the land being occupied, to ascertain the means by which the residents would have taken up residence.

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud addressing residents of Cotton Tree in the presence of President Donald Ramotar and Chairman of the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) Rudolph Gajraj

Involved in the process will be a Registrar of the High Court in the event that grievances arise about the process and legal action is taken.

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud who was part of the meeting and under whose jurisdiction the issue of surface and sub-surface rights fall, urged residents to cooperate with the surveyors and other officials who will be visiting the community to begin work.

Rene Duesbury, Manager of Surveys of the GLSC who outlined the land registration procedure in detail to the residents during today’s meeting, regards the initiative as a catalyst for other communities, and a supplement to Government initiatives such as the housing drive.

 

A similar programme will be undertaken in Berbice, Region Six, targeting small farmers who have been requesting land access, while at Onderneeming on the Essequibo Coast Region Two, a land regularisation exercise is also in the making, Minister Persaud disclosed.

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