On Friday, the City Engineer’s Department of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), removed barriers and signs and other related materials from what they deemed as a “public road” located on the western side of Giftland Office Max, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
This action has resulted in the owners of the Mall crying foul, accusing the M&CC of abusing its authority.
The mall claimed on Friday that heavily armed ranks from M&CC, without any notice, descended on the facility yesterday, and “unlawfully” removed signs and barriers along the access roads and parking area.
Roy Beepat, head of Giftland, in a statement said that the M&CC was flexing its muscles at the behest of a number of persons living in a new housing area located aback of his property.
The housing area is reportedly owned by National Hardware.
However, Town Clerk, Royston King, yesterday, posited that an examination of the lease document (lease 2781 made between the Government of Guyana and MCG Investments Inc., under section 18 of the conditions identified stated that the road remains under the control of the Government of Guyana) by the City Engineer revealed that that road is not part of the legal property of Beepat.
“It could be considered a right of way or ease of access to the areas beyond the boundaries of Giftland Office Max. The placement of such materials by the owner of that mall prevented, impeded and obstructed free access along that roadway,” King said.
Asked to respond to these claims made by King, Head of Giftland, Roy Beepat, told Kaieteur News, “We wish to state that although we have the highest respect for him (King) and his office, he has been grossly misled in some aspects of his response.
“Giftland has spent over $400M on the access road; this included the building of parapet, street light, road marking and cleaning.”
Beepat said that to date, the M&CC has not “spent one cent on this road”. The road was built and paid for by Giftland with its own funds with the exception of 1 1/2 inch of asphalt surfacing from the Ministry of Public Works.
He argued also that the road is not gazetted as being part of any Government property.
“Due to the consistent heavy traffic and use of the roads, especially at weekends, a series of road signage, markings and access routing has been necessary in order to avoid the natural blockages which occur without proper controls especially at weekend.
“Giftland is very happy to relieve itself of these responsibilities. Would the City provide effective traffic systems controls? However, without these and to alleviate the frustrations of our customers, it is a function we have undertaken,” he said.
Beepat said that taking away the signage and barriers “is totally unlawful”.
King said, also, that the City Engineer and other senior Technical Officers visited Beepat and notified him that the placement of signs as well as a large cement truck on that road was unlawful, dangerous and posed an inconvenience to other citizens, who have a right to use that road without hindrance.
“However, the owner of Giftland Office Max refused to comply with the instructions of the City Engineer. As a result, yesterday, under the instruction of the Town Clerk and in keeping with the Municipal District and Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, those encumbrances were removed.”
Beepat, whilst admitting that there was a visit by City Engineer, Colvern Venture, said that there was an agreement that the road would serve as an access for the Boyer Development.
Giftland did not concede that it was a Public road. Beepat said that this was done in order to facilitate the City Council.
“Three days ago, Mr. Venture was contacted and informed that the Boyer residents were removing the barriers, cursing the security guards and refused to drive around which would result in a breakdown of our traffic controls.
Due to this, the cement trucks were placed to block the Boyer residents contravening our road use.
“We appealed for his intervention and also made phone calls and emails to Mr. Nicholas Boyer but there was no response, hence the cement truck was deployed to stop the disruption of traffic.”
King, during the interview yesterday, went on to accuse Beepat of continuing to carry out “unauthorized works including construction of a play area and entertainment centre”. He said that no plans have been approved for such ongoing works by Giftland.
The Town Clerk said, also, that no valuation was done for the entire mall and all the properties thereon.
“As a result, they have not paid any property rates on the true value of this mall from the time it was constructed until now, to the Mayor and City Council.
“The Council has not been receiving any property rates from this newly built Mall and allied properties in that area. Some time ago, the Council had requested the Valuation Department to do a valuation of that property; we have had no response,” the Town Clerk said.
Beepat said that the Mall honours all its statutory obligations.
“All our Taxes are paid and up to date. It is the Council’s responsibility to do its valuation and present its bill. This is not a Giftland Mall function.
“It has been explained and up to this week we have been in touch with Mr. Venture to assist us with the regularization of all the Mall building adjustments. The company that was submitting these has been slow, and we have been in touch with their offices to ensure we reach compliance.
“We would further state that Guyana has never had a project of this magnitude and although we are 95 percent compliant in terms of all the Mall buildings, there is still the playground to be regularized.”
The company said that the owner of the housing development has placed an “illegal” bridge structure blocking the northern and southern government reserves resulting in the trench not being cleaned and maintained.
Meanwhile, the Director of National Hardware (NH), Nicholas Boyer Director, responded to the release issued by Giftland. He said that the company did not ask the M&CC to move Giftland’s parking signs.
The only time that NH had any communication with the M&CC was previously when Giftland allegedly placed a cement truck blocking the access, Boyer said.
Boyer stated that Giftland tries to “falsely conclude” that the M&CC is acting on NH’s behalf.
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