Stolen laptop delays $3.7B remapping project


A project that was slated to commence three weeks ago by the Lands and Surveys Commission to remap Guyana is delayed as a result of the “illegal removal” of a laptop that is integral to the process.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commission Trevor Benn told a news conference that the laptop was stolen from the aircraft which belongs to North West Geomatics Ltd – a Canadian based company that has been contracted to conduct the remapping.

The aircraft was parked at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri.

The laptop has since been replaced by the company and work is set to begin shortly.

“The consultant and his team are on the ground. There are two aircraft at the Ogle airport…[but] now that they’ve replaced the laptop, the rains are upon us so it’s [remapping] further delayed,” Benn said.

The remapping is being done at a cost of US$18M (GYD$3,765 817 800).

The Commission had initially pegged the project between $5.3B to $16B but North West Geomatics Ltd was found to complete the task at a cheaper cost.

Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Trevor Benn

The remapping of the country’s land and water resources will begin with Region one (Barima-Waini) and parts of Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).

The first phase of the project will cost $230.1M. The Canadian company will be using the latest LIDAR Technology to capture relevant data.

“This remapping exercise will provide the platform for updating our national topographic dataset and will support a host of critical government and private sector needs,” Benn told the media.

LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.

The GL&SC, which is responsible for state lands administration and surveying, is faced with a number of issues due to outdated maps of the country; there are challenges associated with inadequate information of available land and other resources.

Benn said Guyana has not been remapped in over five decades and as a result, Guyanese have had to rely on outside companies for maps of specific areas when dealing with investors.

As such, the GL&SC has hired an independent UK Consultant to train staff to review data that the Commission receives.

The Commission is also acquiring drones under the Sustainable Land Development and Management project funded by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The state-owned agency is examining several ways to improve its systems to meet the increased demand for lands.

According to Benn, the agency has started to streamline data processing to reduce processing time for applications. The Commission this year processed a total of 3537 applications of which 849 were approved and prepared a total of 489 leases.

In 2019, the GL&SC also established a legal division which managed to 16 High Court cases.

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