Businessman accuses Govt agencies of hindering development

first_imgBusinessman Shamnarine Narine said he is forced to believe the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) and the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) are colluding to stymie development in the Mandela area, Georgetown, resulting in the chasing away of investors.Narine’s statement comes after the CH&PA issued a cease work notice on October 6, 2018, to the Guyana Tractor and Equipment Company to terminate an unauthorised construction project that is taking place on Government reserve at plot HN Industrial Reserve, Plantation Ruimveldt, Georgetown.The order stated that all activities are to be ceased immediately under the Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 20:01 of the laws of Guyana. The businessman said he was leased the site to construct a gas station, minimart and office spaces.Detailing the events that led to the notice, Narine told <<<>>>> that since 2016, the plot of land measuring 0.25 acres was in his possession through a lease from the Georgetown Mayor and City Council. However, the GLSC said they have jurisdiction over the State’s land and the lease had to be scrapped.The man then approached the GLSC for a lease but was told that they would not be leasing the land, rather they are prepared to sell the plot for $8 million.“We paid $4.5 million for the land to the Lands and Surveys Commission after negotiations. A receipt was issued and signed off by Trevor Benn (GLSC’s head). We paid the money in February 2017 and then we got the receipt. They told us that they will send us the title and later on in the month they sent a provisional lease stating that they will now lease us the land for $250,000 per year and them never sent the lease to date,” he explained.After they received the provisional lease and a document giving them permission to occupy the said property, things were set in motion for the construction of the gas station and the minimart. They sought and received the relevant permission from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Mayor and City Council and the Guyana Water Incorporated. However, the Public Infrastructure Ministry had objections with the project and refused to give permission.“They (MoPI) write and tell us we can’t build a gas station there because Mandela Avenue is being developed and they are not allowing egress and ingress in Mandela and to find an alternative route and they give permission to build the minimart and CH&PA also said to find alternative route and we did that and then it was approved,” Narine stated.The frustrated businessman said the company went ahead with the construction of the minimart but as they were driving piles, they received the cease work notice and around 15:00h the same day, a notice of repossession from the GLSC.“It is strange that these two agencies happen to send their notices on the same day. We have written to the CH&PA two times to state what is the contravention and they have not even acknowledged our letters. The Lands and Surveys want to repossess the land for public purposes and they too can’t say what is the public purpose. Them want repossess the land and we pay the $4.5 million for it and then don’t want to give back the money. All of this just looks like coordinated suspicious activity to me,” the irate man said.Narine said he is still waiting on the responses to his letters, giving specific reasons for the actions taken by the two governmental agencies.According to the CH&PA, Narine on April 30, 2018, submitted an application to the Planning Authority for full approval of planning permission to erect a two-storey building (25 feet – 0 x 55 feet -0) for commercial use as a convenience store on the ground floor and offices on the first floor and to install four fuel pumps and three underground tanks for kerosene, gasoline and diesoline for use as a petrol station.On May 11, 2018, the convenience store and offices were recommended for approval on condition that the developer amended plans in accordance with recommendations from the Public Infrastructure Ministry indicating no access from Mandela Avenue.The CH&PA later disapproved the application after they detected that the site is not suitable for such development. Even though the approval was not given, the contractor continued construction works on the site. The disapproval of the application came after residents of the Shirley Field-Ridley Square, South Ruimveldt, in a petition to the agency rejected the construction of the gas station and the convenience store and offices and also since it cannot be accessed from Mandela Avenue, which is the main thoroughfare.Additionally, the proposed means of access (Plumbaggo Street and the roadway) are minor streets that cannot serve as means of ingress and egress since they are not suitable and inappropriate, the CH&PA said. Further, according to the agency, it is concerned with the destruction that was caused to the road and road shoulders by heavy-duty equipment used by Narine to drive piles into the ground.last_img

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