Residents of Four Miles Community in Port Kaituma, Region One, were assured that their outstanding land issues would not only be investigated but, completed within three months. This assurance came from Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.
Minister Trotman recently met the residents of the community. He was accompanied by Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes and Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe.
According to a statement from GINA, the residents raised concerns over their community being designated as an Amerindian reservation since 80 percent of the persons residing in the community are non-Amerindians.
Samuel Benjamin who has been residing in the community for about 28 years, explained that when he first settled in the area, “It was an open expanse run by the Port Kaituma Neighbourhood Democratic Council.”
He said, subsequently, the residents agreed to form the area into a community. However, on the day when they were to elect councillors, they were told that they must be of Amerindian ethnicity before becoming the Chairperson of the community. Most of the residents objected to this decision.
Benjamin noted that over the years, letters were sent to the previous government requesting that they visit the community and investigate the matter but, no one came.
He said the election of a Toshao without prior consultations with the residents caused a division with the community. He asked that the present Government intervene and resolve the issue so that the community can move forward with its development.
During the meeting at the Four Miles Community Centre, Minister Trotman asked that the Government be given three months to investigate the matter.
“Let us hold the peace, and I am expecting that within a matter of three months the most, not that the process will start but, it will be started and completed,” Trotman told the residents.
He urged that in the meantime, the community should not descend into disorder. “Mr. James did not name himself the Toshao and so I will ask that in the meantime show each other some respect. Every problem has a solution…these are difficulties we (coalition government) have inherited but it doesn’t make sense we go back to who did what. Right now we have to find solutions to an issue and that is why we are here,” the minister explained, adding that he now has information which he would take to Cabinet. “We have a serious problem in Four Miles and we will have to fix it for the benefit of everyone,” he assured.
According to Trotman, a team of officers from the Lands and Surveys department and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs will be visiting the community shortly and the issue would be settled definitively and in accordance with the law.
Four Miles is a community located within Port Kaituma, North West District, Region One. It has a population of about 1500 people.