Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 26, 2017 News
Despite promises made to repossess huge swaths of prime housing lands on the
East Bank Demerara that were sold under questionable circumstances to private developers the Government is yet to announce actions.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan had told media operatives that the matter is engaging the attention of the Attorney General Chambers with the possibilities being explored whether the lands– more than 400 acres– can be repossessed.
The AG told Kaieteur News at the National Communications Network (NCN) on Friday that Minister Bulkan has raised the issue but he (Williams) will have to “probably check the Chambers to see if there is anything there in particular”.
The Minister was reminded of the legal aspect of the arrangement between the State and the Private Developers.
He noted that he has not “been armed in particular, in relation to that issue. He added that he thinks that the issue is being dealt with by the Central Planning and Housing Authority (CH&PA). Efforts to contract Minister Bulkan yesterday were futile.
The decision to sell those lands to a number of developers was made in the last days of the Bharrat Jagdeo administration with most of the deals consummated under former President Donald Ramotar.
There was no clear basis what methodology was used to determine the prices per acre-— some developers just paid more than others.
However, the developers largely failed to implement the necessary infrastructural works for drainage and internal roads as was stipulated under the terms of agreement upon receiving the lands.
The deals had caused anger, especially with questions swirling in light of the fact that the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) had more than 20,000 applications for lands in its database.
Bulkan had admitted under questioning at that press conference that there is the issue of significant concern to administration and one that spoke of lethargy, sluggishness and malaise from the developers.
In late 2015, months after taking office, the Coalition Government and several top officials had paid a visit to some of the site where they noticed that the lands sold to private developers were way behind schedule when it came to developmental works.
From the inspection, the then Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Keith Scott, announced that he had summoned senior principals, including some from Sunset Lakes Inc. and Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited, to update him.
Along Mocha Road, Courtney Benn has reportedly acquired 50 acres of land behind New Providence.
Further north, behind the Princess Ramada Hotel and Casino, Dax Contracting Services also had a plot of land. Owner, Faisal ‘Dax’ Mohamed, has been reportedly selling plots of it.
The Minister, accompanied by his team of engineers and technical staff members, was concerned that lands were being sold without homes being built, which was tantamount to speculation.
At Sunset Lakes Inc., a 100-acre plot was sold by Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) to businessman, Brian Tiwarie, and located behind the National Stadium.
Sunset Lakes (Tiwarie) reportedly bought the 100 acres for $458M and reportedly resold it for over $800M to Baishanlin, the controversial Chinese company.
According to the Sunset Lakes agreement of sale and purchase, the purchaser (Sunset Lakes) must complete all infrastructural works within eight months of taking possession in 2011.
The company also had two years to complete the construction of all houses in the proposed housing scheme and to have 100 percent occupancy.
Failure by Sunset Lakes to construct homes within 24 months could see CH&PA fining the developer up to 25 percent of the current market value of the vacant parcel of land.
There have been criticisms how the more-than 400 acres of land stretching from behind Republic Park to Little Diamond ended up mainly in the hands of close friends of the previous administration.
At least 16 private developers benefited from as early as 2011. Still another 11 companies, as of July 2014, were set to receive lands from CH&PA for areas in Little Diamond and Great Diamond.
CH&PA has made it clear that there are no available house lots in Region Four to allocate to persons. Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valarie Adams-Patterson, who has responsibility for housing, noted that the government will be investing in housing units.
The town houses, duplexes and low income accommodations are to address the growing population density while effectively utilising diminishing land space.
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