Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud on Monday advised Kuru Kururu residents to map out a strategy for the orderly development of the Soesdyke-Linden Highway community and warned against occupation of the reserves.
Persaud and a team including Permanent Secretary Joslyn McKenzie and officials from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) visited the area to address the issues of illegal land allocation and squatting.
According to a Government Information Agency press release, the minister cautioned residents that development opportunities will not be possible if they continue to misuse the land and he advised them not to build on the road reserves. He also said land ownership must follow a specific process after residents complained that Lands and Surveys officials “are giving out lands that are not there.” Further, he noted that the president is the only authority and the only office in the country that grants access to land.
“We are just representatives…..the policy is that we must ensure that there is equitable distribution of lands in any part of the country…those who need lands must be able to access lands not those who got land must be able to get more lands,” Persaud said. He also pointed out that while there are no prohibitions against persons with land applying for access to more, the priority is “land for the landless” and distribution must be done in a “fair and transparent manner.” “……Even if someone is entitled, it is not a passport for you to go and break the law,” he explained.
The minister also acknowledged that over the years there have been complaints that Lands and Surveys officials had facilitated, encouraged and engaged in illegal activities and several staff members had been dismissed and others are being investigated. He also urged residents to report illegal practices. “We are going to weed out and stomp out those officers within the commission who are in one way or the other are contributing to this problem,” he added.
The ministry will also be conducting educational programmes across the various communities and regions with the aim of educating persons on how they can access land. Staff at the relevant agencies will undertake training aimed at helping them to develop a more customer-friendly approach to persons applying for land.
National Land Use Plan
Persaud also revealed that Cabinet will soon implement a National Land Use Plan that will curtail illegal land practices across the country. It will also guide the use of land, the operations of the Lands and Surveys division, the Central and Housing and Planning Authority, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the GFC, RDCs and other agencies.