Fifty-four residents of Mocha/Arcadia, East Bank Demerara (EBD) received Titles to leased land from Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at a ceremony held at the Marks Supermarket on Friday.
According to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency, the document offers the residents a 50-year lease on the lands for a yearly rental.
The release said that the recipients are the first batch of an initial 135 residents, who first received temporary ‘Permission to Occupy’ lands in January last year from Harmon at the same location. Following the issuance of the ‘Permission to Occupy’ in 2017, the Commission has been working with residents to ensure that they meet the requirements to be granted titles. The residents, who have been occupying the land for up to 30 years, are only now receiving legal documentation for the lands, the release said.
Addressing the beneficiaries and residents from the area, Harmon said that it is a proud day for the village and the Government as it has fulfilled its promise. Noting that this is an issue the administration inherited when it took office, Harmon said that it had committed to addressing the challenges in three stages. The first was the investigation and examination of the problem while the second stage entailed the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) conducting its own work to deliver provisional leases. The issuance of Titles, therefore, Harmon said, is the third stage.
“We recognise that historically some things were done in these communities, which did not benefit the people of these communities. We committed as an administration that we will right those wrongs that were done to the people in these communities. Today is another step in that direction in that we are providing you with full leases now. These are no longer provisional leases. So you actually own these lands that you occupy,” he said.
Commissioner of the GLSC, Trevor Benn, in his remarks, said that when the Government took office two years ago, the Ministry of the Presidency was inundated with calls from members of the community, who felt that they were not given a fair deal with the way lands were allocated in the community. Since then, he said, 320 lots for housing and agriculture purposes and 58 larger plots strictly for agriculture purposes have been made available to the residents.
Benn said that the Commission was awaiting the outcome of the survey, which would have made these lots permanently available to the residents of the community.
“We’re about to deliver the final product. We will not be able to know exactly how much land you’re occupying until an actual survey is done. We came to the ground to do this survey, which happened last November and December. I want to remind you that this exercise came at a very high cost to the Commission, but we were committed to it because we promised you to deliver these 50 year leases and we’re going to do that today. We will tell those of you who will continue to have conversation with us before the final document is released to you but suffice it to say that all of the people who came and applied and made claim, laid a claim, will be receiving a 50-year lease for lands in Mocha,” he said.
Francis Thompson, one of the beneficiaries in an invited comment, expressed gratitude to the Government for the initiative, noting that it has always been a dream of the community to receive documentation for the lands.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon (third from left) with the recipients. Commissioner of the GLSC, Trevor Benn is at right. (Ministry of the Presidency photo)