I sincerely hope that the Head of Lands and Surveys, Trevor Benn; the City Engineer, Colvern Venture; and presidential press liaison, Mark Archer do not refute what is written here about them because they spoke to me. They know what they told me. It would be morbid dishonesty for them to deny their discussions with me.
Since the Opposition Leader claimed that certain government officials are in receipt of colossal acres of lands, the head of Lands and Surveys, Mr. Trevor Benn has called a press conference to deny that the transactions were legally improper. After listening to Mr. Benn, a picture was painted of these recipients being denied lands they applied for before APNU+AFC came to power and now their applications which were in the system long ago have been approved.
Unless some evidence emerges to contradict Mr. Benn’s pronouncement, then there doesn’t appear to be any impropriety on his part. But what cannot be contradicted is that these current recipients did achieve success after a long wait while others are still on the long wait. In this context it doesn’t look good, because people can say that the recipients eventually got their permits because of their status.
Trevor Benn has other explanations to offer. I was never impressed with Benn when we met more than ten years ago. He worked at the local UNDP office. It had financed a consultancy by Lawrence Latchmansingh to ascertain how Guyanese see the work of the Ethnic Relations Commission under the chairmanship of Juan Edghill. Edghill refused to share Latchmansingh’s findings with stakeholders, even though I requested a copy as a representative of the TUC. I went to see Benn to secure a copy. Benn’s explanation was horribly childish. I didn’t believe him then. I still don’t. He simply said that the UNDP did not have a copy.
I called Benn recently to inform him that a very wealthy man was taking state lands and illegally constructing on them. I was informed about this by squatters, who told me the rich man is bullying them to get off the land so he can take it. Benn asked me for directions to the location. He said his team would visit immediately. The construction continued. I called Benn again. Again, he said his team would go there and close down the operation. That structure went up and was completed and is now a finished house.
Speaking with Benn again on his failure to act, Benn’s explanation was pathetic nonsense. I lost all respect for him since then. Benn told me there are wealthy people illegally occupying and building on government reserves, but they ignore the orders of his agency because these people use money to get their way. That was a silly and ridiculous excuse. I don’t know if Benn thinks I was impressed. Benn has legal authority to stop the criminal takeover of state lands. His authority is similar to the police, GRA, NIS, Forestry Commission. These bodies can use their legal authority to stop persons from abusing the law. All Benn had to do was to get the police to stop the man from building.
I resorted to Benn after the City Engineer, Colvern Venture, entertained me in his office in the presence of a prominent city businessman and promised to stop the illegality. My account of our discussion is contained in my column of Thursday, February 7, 2019 captioned, “CHPA and City Engineer and you know what?” So Benn and Venture watched helplessly as a hugely wealthy citizen took over state land. You know why they didn’t use their authority? I think you know.
In this context, let’s mention Mark Archer. Benn and Venture are strangers to me, Mark Archer is not. Since we are on the topic of influential people close to the government having their land applications completed since APNU+AFC came to power, let’s talk about applicants who are waiting since Hitler died in his bunker.
I approached Mark for him to help process the application for ten acres of land each up the Linden highway for four recipients – Carlyle Goring, a City Councilor at the time; AFC youth activist, Arnold Sukraj; Ogle airport engineer Raymond Persaud; and Robb Street businessman, Rampersaud Persaud. These are all young men who had business plans for the land.
After great pushing around from Trevor Benn’s office, I was told the applications were at the Office of the President. I called Mark. He said he would help. I called Mark over and over. That was two years ago. The four young men are still waiting. A hard working lady that sells pears to Survival supermarket is still waiting too. Maybe they need friends in power, not people like Freddie Kissoon.
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