Lands & Surveys addressing wrongful demarcation of Amerindian lands

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Challenged by an imperfect system and competing laws, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) is trying to address several issues affecting the Amerindian Land Titling process, including updating outdated maps and correcting inaccurate demarcations.

In 2006, the Amerindian Village of Santa Rosa was demarcated by the GL&SC, however, residents firmly contend that the boundaries established are incorrect.

Twelve years later, the issue is still to be addressed and Sharon Atkinson, an advocate, blasted the Commission at day three of the ongoing National Toshaos Conference (NTC) over this situation.

“We’ve been waiting and we’re tired of waiting on seeing our different but similar land issues being addressed by the GL&SC. I think we’ve reached the limit. Extreme patience we’ve exercised in having these issues resolved,” she expressed.

Other Amerindian villages face similar issues with their boundaries not being accurately reflected. Over in Orealla, Region Six, the Toshao has complained of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) using maps which do not reflect the true boundaries of the village.

But the Lands and Surveys Secretariat Manager Durwin Humphrey told reporters that many of the issues arise from a flawed system inclusive of poor investigations and competing laws.

Lands and Surveys Secretariat Manager, Durwin Humphrey

“We have an amalgamation of the Amerindian Act 2006 and a reference made to the State Lands Act under which title is granted and together with that, we have references to Acts like the Surveys Special Provisions Act which creates some issues as it relates to the demarcation of lands prior to the issuance of a title,” Humphrey stated.

The manager noted that in some cases, proper investigations were not conducted.

He said fixing the underlying problem would require years of reforms. “We are starting where we can start with a review of the legislation.”

The Manager noted however that the Lands Commission of Inquiry, which has been criticized by the NTC and subsequently put on hold, could have resolved some of the problems.

Nonetheless, he said the Commission will be working with some villages to address the issue of wrongful demarcation.

He said the Commission will be releasing to the public the names of the villages and the timeframes in which the entity hopes to have the issues resolved.

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