The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission has noted an article published in the Stabroek News on Sunday, March 8, captioned ‘Laluni farmers fear losing cultivated lands.’ The Commission considers the article highly erroneous and wishes to offer the following clarifications.
The Commission wishes to categorically state that no survey for the purpose of granting state lands to Mrs Pauline Sukhai or any other Minister has been executed at Laluni, Soesdyke/Linden Highway in Region 4.
A team of surveyors from the Commission commenced surveying exercises at Laluni on February 25, 2015, to demarcate a tract of state land that was approved for Mr Errol Sukhai, who has been farming in Laluni for a number of years and a strip of state land that has been identified for the reallocation of squatters. During the execution of the survey it was observed that approximately four acres of the land was informally occupied by individuals from the Laluni community. An oral objection to the survey was received by the surveyor, who reported the issue to the Commission. The surveyor was subsequently instructed to suspend the surveys and in keeping with GL&SC standard procedures, the objectors were provided with an opportunity to file a formal complaint and a hearing was scheduled.
The parties were invited to and attended a meeting/hearing at Head Office, GL&SC on Tuesday, March 3. At the meeting the Commissioner informed those present of the status of the survey and restated that a strip of unalienated state land has been identified and reserved for the reallocation of persons who have squatted on road reserves and the community playfield in Laluni. The Commission has a very strict policy on squatting and public education notices to this effect are periodically placed in the print media.
The facts are that the individuals/complainants mentioned in the article have been assigned plots of state land which they inherited an interest in or have titles to, but they have recently encroached on adjacent state lands and have informally occupied approximately four acres.
Mr Elroy Henry has informally occupied a portion of state land in the identified area. He is the grandson of Mr Wilfred Henry who was the holder of a lease for plots 2 and 3 Laluni, comprising approximately 15 acres of land, and who died intestate. The lease has since expired and Mr Elroy Henry and his spouse applied for plot 3, which comprises approximately 7.5 acres of land. But while the application was being processed, his aunt objected to the application and commenced occupation of a portion of plot 3 Laluni. His uncle is also in occupation of a part of the land. Due to the family dispute and in recognition of the fact that the children of the deceased lessee have a superior right to title to the land, they were asked to obtain letters of administration for the estate of the deceased or affidavits of consent for all the heirs before the application could be finalized.
The Commission wishes to clarify that state land at Laluni is leased for a term of 50 years at 100 dollars per acre annually for agricultural purposes. However, if the area applied for by an individual is unsurveyed state land, the client is required to employ a private land surveyor or the services of the Commission to execute a cadastral survey of the land before a lease could be issued. Therefore, the reference to payment for land made by Mr Raymond Dundas in the Stabroek article must have been made in relation to the execution of a survey and not the purchase of state land from the Commission. The Commission wishes to further point to the facts that Mr Raymond Dundas has informally occupied a section of the community playfield, this matter was addressed by the Commission and a portion of state land has been identified and assigned for Mr Dundas’s relocation prior to the hearing and the Stabroek article.
The Commission therefore would have appreciated it if the Stabroek News reporter and Mrs Valerie Lowe could have sought clarification from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission on the issues raised by the residents of Laluni before publishing inaccurate and misleading information which could potentially hinder relations between the Commission and the residents of the farming community of Laluni and other similar communities countrywide.
Michael S Hutson
Land Administration Division (ag)
for Commissioner, Guyana Lands
and Surveys Commission
Since we had understood from residents that the land which had been demarcated was intended for Minister Pauline Sukhai, we made efforts to contact her for a comment. Following a phone call to the Minister’s office when we explained the nature of our enquiry, we were told by her secretary that she was in a meeting but would return our call. She did not do so, and a second phone call produced the same result. Finally, our reporter went to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and was informed again that Minister Sukhai would call us. After hearing nothing from her the report was published in our Sunday edition.