Dispossessed Belle Vue farmers should seek redress through the High Court

Dear Editor,

I write responding to the letter, ‘Belle Vue co-op cane farmers have been deprived of their land; authorities will not act,’ published in the August 21, 2013 edition of the Stabroek News.
The Belle Vue Cane Farmers Marketing Co-operative Society Limited has been problematic for several years now.

The Committee of Management of the Society took approximately fifteen of its members to arbitration for payment of monies that were owed to the Society.

The Arbitration Award in October 2009, stated that members should repay all monies owed to the Society, failing which the land would be repossessed after publication and notices.
After the Arbitration Award, the Society’s Committee of Management hastily repossessed the members’ land and allocated parcels to new personnel.

A few dispossessed members approached the Chief Co-operatives Development Officer about their land being repossessed. It was subsequently learnt that the arbitrator went outside of his mandate and stated in the award that if the members did not repay by a specific date, their lands would be repossessed.

The Chief Cooperative Development Officer then wrote the Committee of Management in July 2010 advising that the arbitrator went outside of his mandate and the land should not be repossessed.

The Committee of Management ignored this advice and did little thereafter to address the matter.

The Ministry of Labour tried to resolve the matter in 2012 by appointing an Interim Management Committee to investigate the claims by the dispossessed members and to manage the affairs of the Society until the investigation is completed.

The IMC report revealed that some dispossessed members accepted compensation from the new occupants of the land, while others demanded that their land be returned to them.

Subsequently, one of the new holders of a plot of land filed a writ in the High Court against the administration of the Ministry of Labour, claiming that the land rightfully belongs to him.
The High Court is currently addressing the matter and as a result, the ministry cannot intervene any further in this matter.

Finally, we wish to state that the individuals who feel that they were dispossessed of their land by the former Committee of Management of the Belle Vue Cane Farmers Marketing Coopera-tive Society Limited should seek redress through the High Court. This, we believe, is the only way to resolve this long and protracted dispute.

The ministry is prepared to provide legal representation to the members who were dispossessed of their land and in this regard, we ask that they visit the ministry so that arrangements could be made to solicit the services of an attorney-at-law.

Yours faithfully,
C Prasad
Chief Cooperatives
Development Officer
Ministry of Labour, Human
Services and Social Security

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