Desperate to keep our housing scheme going
Several years ago, I, along with some friends and business associates applied for some house lots in Yarrowkabra and were given eighteen lots at the front of Yarrowkabra, opposite Skylark Resort. Unfortunately, the house lots were not all together and we were finding it hard to build as a group, so we asked other persons (outside the group) to exchange lots. Some persons (outside the group) were not willing to exchange land, even though at that time, the system allowed for the easy transfer of lots from one person to another. This caused some of the members to become disheartened and lose interest in the project — causing the group to break up.
Some time passed and about eight members of the group (including myself) received letters from Lands & Surveys Department, inviting us to visit the office —this we did and were advised that if we were still interested in developing a housing scheme in the area, we should go and see whether the lots we were given had been occupied by others or still vacant. We checked and discovered that most of the land had been occupied by other persons. We reported this back to Lands and Surveys and they told us that they would relocate us. This they did, providing us with lots all together so that we could have built our houses as a group.
We cleared the land (which of course, took a lot of money). Again, members started to default, and being under the impression that the system was still the same, where lots could be easily transferred from one person to another, I allowed other persons who were interested in becoming a part of the housing scheme, to take up defaulters’ land to build on. After they started building, we found out that the system had changed and land could not be easily transferred anymore.
The persons who had started building on defaulters’ land stopped building when they found this out, hoping to get the matter resolved before continuing. We therefore sought the advice of Lands and Surveys Department and were told that there was a clause in the lease, which stated that letters had to be sent to defaulters, requesting that they indicate their interest/non-interest in retaining legal right to the land they had been allotted, and giving them six months to reply. That was almost eighteen months ago and we are still awaiting a final word from Lands and Surveys Department.
There have been two persons (names provided) in the Lands & Surveys Dept. who have been very sympathetic with our situation and have tried to help in many ways, but to no avail. We were told that even when the process of the six-month approval is completed, letters have to be sent to the Office of the President for approval.
I am now on the verge of giving up on the housing scheme. Of the eighteen house lots, only two houses are completed – mine and that of one other member. Four other houses are in the construction stage, but construction is now stalled because those houses belong to new group members, building on defaulters’ lots and they are afraid to invest any further since they are not in legal possession of the land they are building on. They were expecting that they would have been able to get the leases transferred into their names as the previous system of Lands and Surveys allowed. The whole scheme is at a standstill now because of the new system.
It is now costing me a lot of money to keep the place clean, with no one living there. Now that there are two complete houses, thieves are breaking into the houses and as such I am paying some people to stay up there to watch over the houses. I am trying to put things in place for them to be able to earn a living up there so that it would ease me having to pay them out-of-pocket. I am the only person in the group paying them to stay. The other member whose house is complete has allowed them to stay in his house as a contribution to the effort of keeping them there.
I have submitted the names of persons who are ready to build and have the cash to do so. If or when this housing scheme is completed, it will be the only scheme in Yarrowkabra which would be a great boost for the enhancement of the area.
Out of my desperation to keep this scheme going, I am appealing to His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo to intervene and look into this matter for us. I ask to be forgiven for not going through the relevant line of authority. I have evidence of numerous communications between myself (as leader of the group) and the Lands and Surveys Department showing how long we have been trying to have this situation rectified.
Once again Mr. President, we beg for your help.