Nov 25, 2015 News
Developers of Celina’s Atlantic Resort at the Kitty seawall are adamant that their current activities are not unlawful, but in conformity with permission granted under its lease which was renewed in 2011.
Celina’s, a hangout located on the foreshore overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, is currently moving to develop a US$5M facility that will boast a restaurant, bar, mini-golf course and kids’ park. A number of guest rooms are also planned.
The resort is slated to be opened in time for next year’s grand 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations. However, the construction is facing legal problems, with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and sea defence department saying that there is no permission to expand.
At least three cease orders were issued this year to Bernard Yhun, whose name appears on the lease that was issued in 2003, under the Bharrat Jagdeo government in 2003.
Yhun has reportedly taken on an overseas-based Guyanese as a partner and developer.
The Ministry is preparing to ask the courts for an injunction to stop the construction works. There have been concerns expressed over the impacts on the sea defence in Kitty.
Yesterday, spokesperson for the developments, Bobby Vieira, said that the matter was a simple one for Celina.
“We have the lease here which allowed the property to be developed. We have the restaurant and liquor licence paid up-to-date. You can’t have that unless you had permission in the lease that allowed you to build in the first place.”
Vieira said that works being done are not any new buildings.
“What is happening here is that workers are replacing a few windows in a building and raising the level of the area by 12 inches. What is wrong with that? The mangroves are not being destroyed by clearing the vegetation.”
According to the spokesperson, land reclamation and seaside development is nothing new in the world, and is evidenced in Japan, St. Maarten and Dubai, among other places.
“Celina is bringing entertainment to Guyana and if anybody wants, we stand ready to provide information. We have sought legal advice and are being told that our lease and up-to-date payments to the Guyana Lands and Surveys and the Guyana Revenue Authority for permits, allows for renovations and protecting the investments.”
Vieira noted that the area with its thick vegetation has been a haven for robbers, with even a few rapes reported.
“Celina’s is making the place more attractive and protecting its investments at the same time.”
The tussle with Celina’s has reportedly caused some friction between a number of ministries in the Government, with some ministers for the development and others worried about environmental impact.
Vieira noted that Celina’s is paying up to $500,000 monthly for security of the place.
There has also reportedly been pressure mounted from a few other nightspots over the enhancements at Celina’s.
According to the Notice of Violation by the ministry issued to Yhun, any activity regarding the seas and river defence reserves has to be approved by the Sea Defence Board. The Ministry was unhappy that Yhun breached regulations when he stockpiled construction materials, operated heavy equipment across the seawall, excavated the foreshore area, cut mangroves and did modifications of existing buildings.
Celina’s is also accused of placing three containers in the area. Yhun was ordered to cease all work and remove the equipment and workers from the site.
In 2003, the land was leased for 50 years to Yhun for tourism purposes, for the establishment of a seaview resort. The land, east of the Kitty groyne and north of the seawall, was 1.54 acres, with Yhun asked to pay $1.5M every two years.
Celina’s lease barred it from undertaking any work without permits from Environmental Protection Agency. The business entity was also specifically barred from disturbing mangroves east of the property without consent of the Board.
Vieira yesterday claimed that no mangrove was disturbed, just vegetation.
Yhun was also told that he must move any equipment and materials to and from the area by the way of the sea. He was forbidden to move any construction plant, equipment and materials over the sea defences without the Board’s permission.
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