The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) has begun working with a number of communities in the Barima- Waini region, including Matthew’s Ridge, Port Kaituma, and Mabaruma, to regularise land usage through the provision of land titles.
In a press statement, the commission said that a team, including its Commissioner and CEO, Trevor Benn, visited the region over the weekend to initiate the process of providing titles for lands that are already occupied. This process is expected to be completed within weeks, GL&SC added.
The communities visited were Matthew’ Ridge, Port Kaituma, and Mabaruma. In Matthew’s Ridge, Commissioner Benn reportedly expressed disappointment that, despite occupying the lands for decades, none of the residents had been issued with titles. Deeming the situation “unacceptable” he said, “It is something that we must correct, I am assuring you this.”
The commissioner also said that the granting of titles to establish rightful ownership to deserving persons would help to improve their quality of lives and the status of their communities. “The objective is to make sure that in a short space of time we can resolve the issues for all of you. I am surprised to learn that almost no one in Matthew’s Ridge has title to their lands. This is depressing and we have to fix that for each of you. You cannot improve your lives if you do not have ownership to basic things like land. You cannot get a mortgage if you do not have the documents for the land,” Mr. Benn told the residents.
Furthermore, based on the findings from the process during the outreach in Matthew’s Ridge, a team from the Land Administration division of the Commission will be deployed during the next few days to begin the regularization process. “We will be sending a team during the week to work with you to ensure that these issues are addressed, so we are urging you to be here when our team is on the ground and work along with them so we can get this thing over with and move on from here,” Mr. Benn told the residents.
Government Member of Parliament, Mr. Richard Allen, who accompanied Commissioner Benn, is also expected to return to ensure that the process run smoothly.
Mr. Benn told residents that while the Commission will be doing all that is within its power to ensure that the community becomes regularised, they also have a key responsibility to cooperate and to pay all outstanding dues so that the Commission can continue with the execution of its mandate.
“You must follow the rules and for those who are entitled, regardless of who you support, once you are entitled, you will get your land. We will do a thorough investigation of the issues raised. These are very serious issues and we want to ensure that in the shortest possible time that we can deal with those issues and get you your titles. Unless you are prepared to work with us then we cannot get anywhere. We need to cooperate,” he said.
As it relates to the issues raised at the meetings in Port Kaituma and Mabaruma, Commissioner Benn assured the residents that their issues would be given priority by the Commission; some of those issues date back as far as the 1990’s.
Regional Executive Officer for the Barima-Waini Region, Mr. Randolph Storm, in brief remarks told the residents that while the Commission is moving to regularise them, they must become productive. “This place has potential. I shall make every effort to see that you get some help but help is already on its way. You must stop the bickering and quarrelling among yourselves. We will not be able to get anywhere if you do not stop. You have to help us to help you,” he said.