Apr 22, 2016 News
In 2011, a huge plot of housing land at Providence, East Bank Demerara, was allocated to former Parliamentarian
of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Odinga Lumumba.
However, it appears that the transaction was never seen by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
It is unclear who authorized it and which entity handled the transaction and whether any monies were paid.
Yesterday, Attorney-at-Law for CH&PA, Hannifah Jordan, at a press conference hosted by the CH&PA Board of Directors, said that she is unaware of any agreements entered into between the authority and Lumumba.
She was also unaware of anything signed with Elaine Ville Development Inc, a company Odinga Lumumba owns and controls 200 acres in Providence.
The Elaine Ville transaction would be significant, as it falls in the middle of several hundred of acres of housing lands between Eccles and Little Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
These lands were controversially sold by the previous PPPC Government to more than 20 private developers.
Those lands were supposed to be under the control of CH&PA, after being transferred from the Guyana Sugar Corporation.
How it was parceled off without CH&PA knowledge is now the big question.
CH&PA Chairman of the Board of Directors, Hamilton Green, who chaired the press conference yesterday, said that it is apparent that there is a lot of skullduggery in the question of this allocation of lands to “certain” people.
The CH&PA board has asked management to provide details of the transactions of the lands sold to private developers. The allocations had angered citizens as there are over 25,000 applications for house lots on file, with little lands on the East Demerara area left to be opened for development.
Many of the developers have failed to build homes or install roads, drains and utilities, something that they agreed to. They had a specific timeframe in the contract to do so.
CH&PA board has been investigating several projects and initiatives that were started by the previous administration, and which would have involved billions of dollars in funding from the state.
Management of CH&PA has been under scrutiny, with Green admitting yesterday that questions are being asked.
Save for the lawyer yesterday, there was no CH&PA management official present at the press conference to discuss complaints about another project — the 1,000 homes project at Providence.
In recent years, housing development across the nation and gold mining became two of the biggest drivers of the economy.
With a huge demand for house lots and even turn-key homes, the spin-offs have created thousands of jobs for contractors, hardware suppliers, surveyors and financial institutions to the tune of billions of dollars, annually.
However, the housing sector slowed significantly in the last two years.
More than 25,000 housing applications exist on file across the country. In East Demerara, there are no more lands available, housing officials and Government say. A vast number of those 25,000 applications are for the Demerara area.
It appeared that the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), under former Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali, was not properly managing the lands it had under its control.
Worth billions of dollars, large swaths of lands, especially on the East Bank of Demerara, between Eccles and Diamond, were parceled off to several private developers, including Chinese companies.
It involved several hundreds of acres of prime lands, including the areas behind Republic Park, at Providence, Herstelling, and even in the Golden Grove area.
The lands were sold for between $500,000 per acre to up to $9M per acre, with no clear indications what impacted the price difference.
Some of the developers were even barred from selling new homes to citizens who already owned property.
However, there are indications that many Guyanese were allowed to purchase a second home or invest in land.
The developers, according to agreements, only paid part of the monies that were demanded by CH&PA, pending the construction of infrastructural works and submissions of designs, among other documents.
Today, it has been more than four years for many of the 20-odd developers. For many of them, very little has been done in terms of infrastructural works. Some of the lands are overgrown with bush.
There are reports that some of the developers who have started work have, in breach of the agreements, sold house lots instead of building homes.
One developer even sold his entire parcel, some 100 acres of it, to a Chinese investor, for at least US$8M, a few months after receiving it.
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