Housing lands to be reclaimed from Baishanlin, other errant developers

-gov’t embarking on new real estate project

While the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) is seeking developers to fund new real estate projects it is to take back lands from errant developers such as the Baishanlin-owned Sunset Lakes for failing to meet contractual obligations.

The abandoned Baishanlin housing project
The abandoned Baishanlin housing project

“We are looking at that arrangement with Baishanlin. There are conflicts, legal and other, but the bottom line is that we intend that those lands be made available for middle and upper income and that has not happened. This thing is absurd and we will not be compromising on that,” Chairman of the CH&PA Hamilton Green told Stabroek News in a telephone interview from the United States yesterday.

“As far as we are concerned it (the contract signed with the initial buyer) is non- negotiable. We are not accepting any excuses. We don’t have any sacred cows,” he added.

Green said he understands that  the Chinese logging enterprise,  Baishanlin may want to seek redress through the courts to hold on to the lands and it is their right to do so, but it would not stop the CH&PA from executing its works in repossessing, due to the failure of the company to meet specified requirement clauses of the contract.

“That is what democracy is about and the judiciary is a separate entity. It is their right to seek restitution in the court and we cannot stop them but they cannot stop us from carrying out our mandate either,” the former city mayor reasoned.

Baishanlin’s forest concessions are also being recovered by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

The Board of the CHPA had told private developers who were given lands under the former PPP/C administration and have not yet completed the prescribed works, that they will have a chance to explain the reasons for defaulting.

“That is a matter that the ministry and the board will have to take into consideration. I called them in because every story has two sides and I’ll be calling in the rest over the next few weeks. Let us hear what they have to say and then we take it from there,” Green had explained to Stabroek News back in March of this year.

He had said that the board was not looking at penalties as yet but wanted to analyze what the limitations were and get a “general sense of how to move forward so that the people that need homes” can benefit.

However, after exhausting possibilities with no joy from the developers, the board is no longer prepared to have the lots remain idle.

Green also explained that while there have been disappointments with some developers, the CH&PA is looking for reliable others to develop new lands identified in Region 4.

“What we are trying to do now is house people, poor or not, in wholesome communities and we are seeking to get developers, both locally and externally, to come on board with us,” the CH&PA Chairman said.

Green was referring to an advertisement in the Tuesday, September 20th 2016, edition of the Kaieteur News where the government invited Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for housing development projects along the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara and in the capital, Georgetown, in Region 4.

“The Government of Guyana will be embarking on several projects emanating from its strategic objectives as it relates to housing for low income and state employees along the East Bank Demerara, East Coast Demerara and Georgetown, Region #4,” the advertisement reads.

“The developmental approach involves and encompasses public/private partnerships with developers and the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana for the implementation of these projects…,” it adds, while explaining that interested tenderers can choose from three financial options available. These options are client, developer or a hybrid of the first two options.

Divided into three phases, the proposed works would see the first phase dedicated to executing infrastructural development works such as land preparation, construction of roads, drains, structures, heavy duty bridges and the installation of a pure water distribution network and construction of an electrical network in the targeted areas.

Apartment buildings

Phase two comprises the construction of apartment buildings, two, three and four-storied, and single-flat houses while the third phase would see the construction of social infrastructure such as recreational and commercial facilities.

It said that the specified areas: La Penitence, Cummings Lodge, Little and Great Diamond, comprise undeveloped lands previously used for cultivation of sugar cane. The acreage in the respective communities is 2.3 acres at La Penitence, 99.31 acres at Cummings Lodge and a total of 150.77 acres at Little and Great Diamond.

With the executing agency for government being the CH&PA and the Ministry of Communities, interested private developers can contact CH&PA’s Projects and Planning Departments located on Brickdam, Georgetown but should submit their EOIs to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) by 9am on November 22nd 2016.

Green has signalled stringent work enforcement rules for defaulting contractors as the housing authority is not prepared to accept any shoddy and substandard works or inferior materials.

“It is something that the board is faced with as a great challenge. But having experience from the pre and post-independence period, where we had local engineers who were trained abroad and those men ensured they supervised the work, we are assured that it can happen again. What has happened over the past generation is that some of the locals didn’t have the depth and width of experience to really notice flaws in the product we had. Housing is the worst example of supervision of works.  Now we have to ensure that contractors, local and overseas, comply with our levels of professional integrity,” Green asserted.

“We hope to deal with it and ensure people get value for money. If you go up to Providence and Perseverance (on the East Bank) it is a disaster. There plaster disappearing, roofs leaking,  toilets broken, disappearing bridges, floors falling …it is really unsatisfactory. I see us importing stone and we have got to put a break on that nonsense. We have quality things we need right here. It’s a long haul, where you are moving from a custom where people are moving from being satisfied with giving shoddy work, not enough supervision and getting their retainer back even if the work is not completed to standards. It won’t happen. We have to move away from that nonsense,” he declared.

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