Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues has pledged to pursue a resolution to the land matter affecting over 91 households of Bee Hive, East Coast Demerara since the 1960s.
The Minister made this commitment during a visit to the community on Wednesday to update the residents on the situation regarding them being able to access their land titles.
Minister Rodrigues said the lands are owned by the Kissoon family. However, in 1976, late President L.F.S. Burnham issued a Compulsory Acquisition for the lands to be regularised since it was being occupied by people. The matter was challenged by the Kissoons’ and was in the courts until 2011, when the late Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that the Compulsory Acquisition for the lands was lawful.
The matter was then appealed and a stay of execution was granted, preventing the Government from proceeding with regularisation. To date, the appeal has not been heard in the court.
Minister Rodrigues said she has sought the assistance of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC on the matter. The Minister said the Kissoon family was invited to a meeting to resolve the issue outside of the court. However, they are requesting that persons pay market value for the lands, which the Minister said was immediately rejected.
“We are not going to let that happen so I want to assure you of that. So, we will be consulting and I am here to consult with you and we will be engaging the attention of the courts and we will write to the court to ask for there to be a speedy hearing on this matter, so that we can put this matter to rest and so that the Government can proceed with regularisation.”
“You can rest assured that we are addressing this, it has our attention. It is a very unfortunate situation and when I heard about it, I could not ignore it. It is not one of those flashy issues that you go and you get big publicity for, but I know it is an issue that is close to your heart and I would like to see this resolved,” Minister Rodrigues said.
The Minister said there are many other persons in other communities enduring a similar situation as Bee Hive. The Government understands the importance of people having a roof over their heads, she said, and it is serious about homeownership. As such, matters like this need to be addressed.
Minister Rodrigues told the residents that the matter is in the jurisdiction of the court and that she could not give a timeline for its resolution. However, she stressed that it is the responsibility of the Government to protect the rights of its citizens. [Extracted and modified from the Department of Public Information]