The National Toshaos Council (NTC) will have to wait somewhat longer for a plot of land to construct a Secretariat Complex, after Government on Thursday announced it has scrapped plans to issue a plot of land at Sophia.
This announcement comes almost one year after President David Granger had turned the sod for construction of the secretariat, and a few days after outgoing NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks had bashed the President for not issuing the NTC with the land.
This announcement also debunks the announcement made by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission that a 50-year lease has been made for the Sophia plot of land.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, on Friday told the media at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing that this decision was taken after it was felt that the land identified in Sophia was insufficient.
He explained that Government is in the process of identifying a larger plot of land, particularly from GuySuCo, so that the NTC could have a larger complex.
Harmon related that the President had made the decision after reviewing the Sophia land with Indigenous Peoples Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock, who is consulting with the new NTC Executive.
“We are looking to allocate a larger tract of land, so that the headquarters of the NTC can be well set up and well organised. Some of the lands that have been freed-up from GuySuCo…are some of the lands His Excellency is looking at, because he would like to see an NTC Headquarters that is representative of the stature and interest that we in Guyana have. So he wants to give them a nice plot of land to ensure that the Headquarters and the subsequent development of that entity takes place,” Harmon explained.
Responding to this announcement, newly elected NTC Chairman Nicholas Fredericks told Guyana Times the NTC is yet to decide on the way forward, but he noted that Minister Allicock had made a general statement about the larger plot.
“We have been in constant contact with the Ministry (MoIPA), but we are yet to decide on anything. We have the two options, and the larger plot would mean that we can have a bigger complex. It means that we can build accommodation for when our leaders come out, and (have) more space for expansion in the future,” Fredericks said.
He maintained that the NTC is yet to decide on where it wants its secretariat located, and the final decision would be taken after the new executive meets in the coming weeks.
Following a promise made by President Granger, a plot of land was identified for the NTC Secretariat at Sophia, and the sod was turned for construction of the NTC Headquarters in August. However, construction never commenced because the NTC has been awaiting the legal documents. The Council wants title for the plot of land.
The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission had said the 50-year lease has already been prepared and is awaiting pick up by the NTC. This was supposed to be done on Friday. However, with this new announcement, that lease would have to be scrapped.
At the opening of the NTC Conference on Monday, outgoing Chairman Joel Fredericks had said the indigenous peoples of Guyana had been promised a number of things, such as the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006; Constitutional reform; and land to build an NTC Secretariat. He disclosed that, for three years, the NTC had listened carefully to every indigenous people’s policy Government had announced. However, in those three years, trust has been eroded by Government’s failure to effectively act on promises made.
The National Toshaos Conference concluded on Friday.