Three different entities have claimed ownership of the ‘Sussex Street Wharf,’ which was leased to Quick Shipping Inc. by Town Clerk Royston King.
Paul Sandy, Managing Director of Quick Shipping Inc., told the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the operations of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) yesterday that he believed that the property belonged to the city when in April, 2016, he entered into a lease with the city for use of the 25,000 sq. ft. property at Lombard Street, popularly known as the ‘Sussex Street Wharf.’
Under examination by his lawyer, Jerome Khan, Sandy told the CoI at a hearing at the Critchlow Labour College that his belief was bolstered by an expired lease for the same property, which had been granted to International Fishing Investment Company Limited by City Hall. This lease had expired in 2006.
“At all material times, Mr Sandy was labouring under the belief that the land was owned and controlled by M&CC, buttressed by the fact that a previous lease existed between M&CC and the fisherman group,” Khan stressed repeatedly.
Sandy further indicated that he paid an annual fee of $625,000 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 for use of the space to ship cargo from Georgetown to the North West District. The payments in 2017 and 2018 were made despite Sandy having been approached by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the Guyana National Industrial Corporation (GNIC), which both claimed ownership of the property.
NICIL first reached out to Sandy via a visit to the site, where he showed them the lease he had entered into with the city. In response, the state holding company sent a letter in July, 2016 to both Sandy and the Town Clerk, in which NICIL head Horace James claimed the company to be the rightful owner of the property.
Sandy subsequently wrote James, asking NICIL to consider entering into a lease with him for the use of the land but another letter from GNIC in February, 2017, informed Sandy that it was the rightful owners of the property.
As a result, Sandy sought clarification from the Town Clerk. In response, King indicated that he would be writing Minister of State Joseph Harmon to seek clarification on the matter. A copy of the letter was submitted to the commission and read aloud at the hearing. In the letter, dated March 2nd, 2017, King indicated that the city had leased the land and that both NICIL and GNIC had subsequently made claims of ownership.
There was no indication of whether or not Harmon had responded to the letter.
However, a letter from GNIC Chief Executive Officer Clinton Williams to James, which referred to both a lease and a transport for the same property, has led Commissioner Cecil Kennard to indicate an intention to summon both GNIC and NICIL to have the issue of ownership resolved.
Kennard has also asked that Sandy submit financial records of the “millions of dollars” he said he had spent on improving the wharf, which he claimed was a semi-pigpen with pigs, piglets, old broken wood and car parts on the site.
“Everything was nonfunctional,” Khan stressed, while noting that a great deal of work, including clearing debris, rehabilitating the wharf, sand filling and concreting the space was undertaken to the tune of millions of dollars.