City Council to write President on ownership of Carifesta Avenue land earmarked for Qatari Hotel

City Council to write President on ownership of Carifesta Avenue land earmarked for Qatari Hotel

In a majority decision on Monday, the Georgetown City Council, agreed a letter should be sent to President Irfaan Ali in an effort to resolve the current dispute over the ownership, and usage of the land that the President has earmarked for a US$300M Qatari Hotel on Carifesta Avenue.

The decision was taken during the Council’s statutory meeting, in response to the Mayor’s contention that the land which was being used by the National Insurance Scheme, was a gift to the City of Georgetown for recreational purposes by former plantation owners in 1887.

The Guyana Lands and Survey, in a statement issued last week, stated that the land, located at Lots 1 and 2 of Plantation Thomaslands, has been the property of the State since 1966.

But in support of his position that it is the City that owns the land, Mayor Mentore presented the 30-member Council with a copy of a transport issued to the Municipality, which was in the possession of the National Archive.

In another majority decision, it was also agreed that should the President fail to respond favorably to the Council’s request to meet on the issue, the matter would then be taken to the Court for final settlement.

“If there is no clarity or no success in the hopeful discussions with his excellency, and maybe other government people on this matter, the council is prepared to take litigation in this matter,” Mayor Mentore said.

Ahead of those two decisions, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councilors challenged the Mayor on the matter, telling him that he must provide the evidence to support his claim that the land belongs to the Municipality. But the Mayor said it is not for him to do that.

“It is not the onus of the Mayor and City Council to provide the evidence. We know where the evidence stands in relation to transport concerning this property,” he told the Council.

But from where she sat, Councillor Patricia Chase-Greene, shouted “I don’t! I don’t!”

It was then that the Mayor provided the Council with a copy of the transport for the land in question.

But that was not enough to secure the support of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councilors.

Chase-Greene, who is a former City Mayor under the APNU+AFC before she switched to the PPP, told the Mayor that “he was heading down the wrong road.” She lobbied for the issue to be discussed at a special statutory meeting, and not at Monday’s meeting.

“I have concerns. Bring to the floor what is the council’s plan for an area that you came to say to us that we own or that we may own but we have never other than choose to lease part of it, and have done nothing since. No development plans, nothing, nothing at all,” Councilor Chase-Greene said.

But the matter was nonetheless discussed on Monday, after the APNU used its majority to suspend the standing order to allow for a discussion on the issue.

Offering his contribution, Councilor Lelon Saul said based on the evidence before him, the land belongs to the city. 

“We are claiming, and based on the evidence that I have seen, the land belongs to municipality. It has nothing to do whether this council is managed by the APNU or the PPP. The issue is the asset, the land,” he said.

But Councilor Don Singh questioned the objection to the developmental plan earmarked for the land. He said the hotel will add to the development unfolding in the city, and will cause an economic boom.

But the City Mayor, while making it clear that the Council is not opposed to developments in the city, said the Council has the right to defend its property, and there are systems to follow even in the execution of development projects.

He said to date, no document relating to the construction of the hotel has been submitted to the Municipality for clearance.

“Nothing was provided to us on this issue. So, I see the fence is being done, and the sod has been turned, and a whole host of other things. The project document has to start with the council. We must have one rule for everyone. There must be one rule for the citizens of this city, and there must be one rule for central government, and there ill be one rule for investors, who want to invest in Guyana. We must not break the rules or bend it to suit anyone,” he explained.

The Government, while maintaining that the land belongs to the State, has said that the hotel will add to the country’s tourism product. It is expected to include 260 rooms and 150 apartments along with conference and other facilities.

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