Lethem residents up in arms over house lot awards

Several Lethem residents are calling on the authorities to review the recent appointment of a housing officer there, after their house lots were taken away and awarded to others, mainly members of the business community.

Stabroek News was told that the official was appointed by the Housing Ministry to overlook the processing of house lots and over the past two months, numerous complaints have been made after persons discovered that other people were awarded house lots at the Tabatinga area already demarcated to them.

When contacted, Housing Minister Irfaan Ali told Stabroek News that some persons were squatting in the area and that they were removed for illegally occupying land there. He said that earlier in the year when this newspaper had reported on a similar issue, he had provided a list which included persons who were awarded house lots at the community.

Lethem resident Ramlall (only name given) told Stabroek News that his son Khemraj Ramlall was awarded a house lot at the housing scheme at Tabatinga some time ago. According to him, his son had informed officials from the Housing Ministry, prior to the appointment of the officer in question, that he preferred another location since the lot awarded to him was in a flood prone area.

He said his son visited the office of the Housing Officer in question but was told that all the land in the area was already allocated and he would have to re-apply for a house lot in another section of the community.

Ramlall said his son felt frustrated at the “running around” but was shocked last week, when he observed persons operating a Bobcat, who said they were working with a businessman in the area who was the “new owner” of the parcel of land. “The land is still in his name and we got the title to it, so we want know what going on in this place,” Ramlall questioned.

Another resident, whose name was given only as “Rakesh” lost his house lot recently. According to a relative, the man had built several columns on the house lot which was awarded to him earlier this year. He said the man was raising money to continue constructing his home when several persons visited the area and bulldozed the columns. He said the individuals informed that they were awarded the house lots.

Reports are that some businessmen in the region were individually awarded as much as four house lots at the Tabatinga Housing Scheme since the new housing officer was appointed.

Lethem residents said the official is closely connected to the government and, according to them, many persons who are not sympathetic to the administration have had their house lot applications turned down at the office of the Housing Ministry at Lethem.

Reports are that some time ago, persons had lodged complaints with the Housing Ministry over the imminent appointment of the official, noting that the individual was a political activist. They said their complaints fell on deaf ears and they have since vowed to launch a protest the offices of the Housing Ministry soon if their concerns are not addressed.