Two employees of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) on Wednesday said the New Amsterdam Town Council is claiming rights to land they would have leased from the GL&SC.
The claim, notably, comes about a decade after one of the complainants would have constructed a house on one of the properties.
Rosamond Fraser and Fay Kesney appeared before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into African ancestral land and other land matters, where they testified to receiving letters from the council informing them that the land they were leasing belonged to the New Amsterdam Town Council.
Kesney, a data entry clerk, testified to receiving the letter in May of this year, and later related that Fraser’s issue would have been raised around the same time.
Asked by Commissioner Carol Khan-James whether she was aware of the land being owned by the council under an absolute grant (as stated in a correspondence the commission was in possession of), Fraser said that she was aware, but that her investigations showed otherwise.
Fraser related to the commission that the grant in question states that 33 acres were transferred from the Mayor and Town Council to the colony of British Guiana, and said she was in possession of a transport showing that some of the lands were given over to the Guyana Development Company Limited and that the remaining land remained the property of Guyana. On the map she referred to, she directed the commissioners to the area outlined, in which she says her property falls. She related that she has not gotten any notice from the council to vacate, nor have any court proceedings been initiated, but she added that she has been invited to several meetings, which she did not attend. Fraser noted, however, that a colleague of hers attended all the meetings and had been unable to convince the council of the legitimacy of her claim.
She told the commission that although she has not been asked to remove from the property, she brought the case before the commission because she wants to ensure that should anything happen, her child’s rights are secured and they have no issue.
Though the witness acknowledged that there is a possibility that she could be wrong, she repeatedly emphasised that she was “convinced” that she is not.
Kesney, on the other hand, stated that she obtained a 50-year lease from the GLSC in 2006. Unlike Fraser, who was able to secure an approval for construction when she approached the council in 2011, her building plan was denied on the grounds that there were issues with the land.
The CoI’s mandate is to examine and make recommendations to resolve all the issues and uncertainties surrounding the individual joint or communal ownership of land acquired by freed African; claims of Amerindian land titling and other matters relative to land titling.
It is being chaired by Reverend George Chuck-a-Sang, with Khan-James, David James, Professor Rudolph James, Lennox Caleb, Berlinda Persaud, and Paulette Henry serving as commissioners.