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Monday, April 12, 2021
Home Letters Charges illegal land distribution in Hopkins

Charges illegal land distribution in Hopkins

If the Village Council appoints its own Lands Committee, residents must know who are the members and they must be advised to follow keenly Sections 14 & 47 of the Village Council Act 2000.

As a matter of fact, the Village Council is collecting $200.00 from people for lots and issuing lot numbers without recommendation from the officially appointed Lands Committee, and without approval from the Lands Minister, who must sign the legitimate documents. I attest to this monetary collection in the village, and it is not the appropriate approach given the reason that the Council does not have a proper system in place to monitor payment.

If this is a recent policy of the Ministry of Lands, it needs to be abolished, because it is encouraging corruption. Moreover, it is not specified anywhere in the Lands and Village Council Acts.

I recommend that this practice stop immediately and payment be made to Treasury, according to Government orders on financial transactions.

To add insult to the matter, a member of the Stann Creek West Lots Committee, who resides in the community and knows the people in the area, is not given the opportunity to make any recommendation as stipulated in the appointment letter. Hence the reason lands distribution in the community is out of control. This is outright disrespect and unethical on the part of those who tolerate this to take place. If this action is not halted, more land dispute is imminent in the community, which the Village Council will be able to unravel.

Even the land acquisition policy echoed by the Prime Minister, which stated that first-time land applicants should be given priority, the Village Council does not adhere to it. This is evident here in opkins during the alleged illegal distribution of lots in the newly surveyed area on the south end of the village.

The facts as I verify them are: some persons who have more than one lot are given another; there are persons who have sold their lots and they are given another one; some people who do not live in the village nor have any connection to Hopkins are given lots; some people who recently moved to the area only for employment are given lots; persons who are favorites of the Village Council are given lots even if they have; some persons who were loyal to the Village Council during its campaign for office are rewarded with lots even if they have one.

Some young residents relate their unfortunate experience when they approached the chairman with their $200.00 deposit and were turned away because he told them that he has no more land, and uttered that he is tired of them disturbing him for lots. This frustration would not have happened if preferential treatment was ruled out of land distribution in the community and given to those who need them. I call on the Minister of Natural Resources to seriously investigate the matter before it gets out of control.

For transparency, I submit the following suggestions: residents have access to a map showing the land numbers in the community and names of those who own them.

Lands Committee appointed by the Council shall be done in a village meeting so that the residents could know them.

Lands Committee report to people to inform them how many lands are available and what are the requirements needed to obtain one.

Lands shall not be given to persons who do not live in the village.

Land shall not be approved for persons who have sold theirs.

Land shall not be approved for persons who have more than one.

Priority shall be given to first time land applicants, especially those who are ready to build.

The Minister of Lands comes to the village to approve, sign and issue land documents.

Payment shall be made at Treasury or Lands Department and not to the Village Council.

The Lands Committee appointed by the Minster of Lands makes final recommendation.

Orlando Augustine, J. P.

(Ed. NOTE: The Village Council or any interested person or body can reply to Mr. Augustine?s letter.)

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