Government is advising persons not to enter the dilapidated First Federa-tion building located at Croal Street and Manget Place and for the tenants who occupy the building to vacate because it has been deemed unsafe and could collapse.
Officially known as the First Federation Mutual Life Insurance Company Ltd Building, ownership of the building has been bitterly disputed as government has claimed ownership over the objections of some tenants. Up to recently, in addition to lawyers’ offices, the four-storey building housed a driving school, a private school and a snackette.
In July, the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) cut the power supply to the building, a move that dozens of tenants, including city lawyers, said was part of an orchestrated attempt by the government to force them out. How-ever, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said that the move was necessary as the building is “a public health hazard” and he questioned how professionals could continue to occupy it.
Yesterday, in an ad in the Sunday Chronicle, the Official Receiver said that recent inspections of the building found conditions that are considered serious and pose a dangerous fire and electrical hazard.
“There is also a possibility that the building may collapse, making it unsafe for human occupancy. In the circumstances, and in the interest of life and overall safety of persons conducting business in the First Federation Mutual Life Insurance Company Ltd building, all are advised to refrain from entering this building, and those in occupation are advised to vacate same immediately,” the ad said.
According to the advertisement, on February 20th the City Engineer’s Department deemed the building to be in a “ruinous state and dangerous to the occupants, passersby and neighbouring buildings.”
Further, an inspection carried out on the building by the Government Electri-cal Inspectorate on April 15th and 19th found that the internal wiring of the building poses a danger to life and property and as a result, GPL disconnected the electricity supply to the building.
More recently, on September 27th, a fire prevention inspection was carried out on the building and it revealed that the building is in a state of disrepair with rotted wood and deteriorated concrete material which has lost its construction integrity. “Faulty and illegal electrical wiring and electrical points/outlets that are not insulated were found. There is a copious amount of garbage, unwanted and unserviceable materials throughout the building. The inspection also revealed that there is no legal connection by the Guyana Power and Light Inc. to the building,” the advertisement said.
It advised persons not to enter the building because of the condition and also urged tenants to vacate immediately.
Nandlall had told Stabroek News that the building is owned by government and that it planned to use the building to accommodate important institutions connected to the justice sector.
However, attorney Gem Sanford, who up to recently was a tenant, had told Stabroek News that the building was never vested in or acquired by anyone after its owner, the First Federation Life Insurance Company Ltd, was liquidated sometime around 1988. She had said that since Nandlall took office, there has been talk that the building was identified to house courts but she maintained that to this date, it is still owned by the First Federation Life Insurance Company Ltd by virtue of Transport No 1132 of 30th June, 1964.
According to Sanford, the First Federation Life Insurance Company Ltd was wound up pursuant to an Order of Court dated November 29, 1988 and the person then holding the substantive position of State Solicitor/Official Receiver was appointed Provisional Liquidator, in accordance with the Companies Act.
The Official Receiver after being appointed, she had said, took over the management of the building and began to collect rent from the tenants and rent empty rooms in order to recover money to pay off the disenfranchised policyholders
The lawyer had stated that while the Official Receiver continued to collect the rent over the years, no maintenance work in respect of the building was done and some tenants refused to pay rent for years in light of this situation while others still continued to do so.