…as Govt grants 50-year lease for secretariat
Day three of the annual National Toshaos Council’s Conference saw toshaos from across Guyana electing a new executive to serve for the next three years. They have elected Toshao Nicholas Fredericks to serve as chair for the duration of the new council.
Fredericks — Toshao of Shulinab Village in Region Nine — served as treasurer on the last NTC, which was headed by Joel Fredericks. Paul Pierre of Kwebanna Village, Waini River, Moruca Sub-region of Region One (Barima/Waini), was elected the Vice-Chairperson, and will replace the outspoken Lennox Schuman.
Additionally, Russian Dorrick will serve as secretary, while Marbel Thomas would serve as treasurer.
The newly elected head contested unopposed, and received unanimous support from the toshaos. The new executive comprises 20 persons from all the Amerindian villages.
During his inaugural address, Fredericks called upon his team to work together to address the needs and make representation on behalf of Guyana’s first peoples. He also issued a word of caution to the Government in relation to confrontations with the NTC.
The Government, in the past, has accused the NTC of being “Oppositionists” when they would have protested to be treated fairly.
Meanwhile, just days after immediate past Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Joel Frederick, had criticised Government for reportedly frustrating the process of issuing a title to the NTC for the plot of land that was given to the Council to use to house the secretariat, the matter has been finally addressed.
Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) Secretariat Manager Durwin Humphrey informed the media on Wednesday that, on the part of the NTC executive, there may have been a lack of knowledge of what the process entailed, but the issue was discussed and put to rest.
“We have expedited the process for the NTC, and there has been a lease available for the longest while. And this is why we encourage has dialogue and communication rather than grandstanding… It is a 50-year lease, which is standard, and it is renewable once there is beneficial occupation,” he explained.
Humphrey, claimed the lease was available, but the NTC had requested a transport, and according to the laws of Guyana, there are certain processes that are required to convert a lease to a transport.
He said, “While we have completed the process of the lease, which is within the ambit of the Commission, the process of the transport, lies outside of the Commission. So it’s out of our control in the end, but we are facilitating the process to ensure thatappensshj.”
The GLSC official also noted that there is nothing preventing the NTC from moving ahead with occupying the land.
Meanwhile, Frederick said that following his criticism on the issue on Monday, the GLSC reached out to the NTC executive and had a discussion on the matter. The GLSC has agreed to have the lease document made available to the Council on Friday, so that it could be presented to the conference.
“We can have a lease document to present to the NTC on Friday, e cepted that with the undertraining that the process to go through in order to get the absolute title…I am comfortable with that, and I would like to say thanks to President Granger,” he said as he explained the importance of having dialogue.
Frederick has maintained that the NTC will not remain silent on matters affected the indigenous people of Guyana. “It is not time for leaders to sit quietly and brush these issues under the carpet, and let the public feel that all is well. We have to represent the people who put us there to serve,” he opined.
He noted that a project proposal was submitted to the Foreign Affairs Ministry through the Indigenous Peoples Affairs’ Ministry, which assisted the NTC in putting together the proposal for submission to the Chinese Government. The NTC will follow up with the Ministry to ascertain that the proposal has been accepted.
The NTC, in July 2017, received a plot of land to build their Secretariat. The request for a Secretariat for the NTC had been made by Indigenous leaders to President David Granger.