Lands Commission warns of tough action against Squatters

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Squatting[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission is looking to clamp down on squatting on State/Government lands and says it will not be condoned in any part of the country.

The Commission says all squatters, including those who are encouraging squatting, would be prosecuted and new squatter settlements would not be regularized; adding that the upsurge in squatting would result in more stringent actions being taken to deter further encumbrance of State and Government lands and planned areas under jurisdiction of the Commission.

“The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission Act Cap. 59:05 of 1999 and State Lands Act Cap. 62:01 of 1903 are GL&SC’s legal instruments for dealing with squatting. According to Section 20 of the State Lands Act Cap. 62:01, squatting on State Lands is illigal. Sections 35 and 36 of the Act, provide the power to arrest or to summon anyone willfully trespassing on, or unlawfully occupying State Lands,” the Commission pointed out in a statement.

The Commission observed that there is a significant increase in squatting on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway and Port Kaituma among others. Squatting have taken place on lands already leased for industrial, commercial and residential land uses, and on reserves, which constrain development of some areas and delay processing of land applications.

“The issue of squatting leads to occupation of road reserves and buffers because squatters do not have Plans with definition of boundaries. Their structures make traffic impassable, and planning for land allocation and lease issuance becomes burdensome and very challenging for legitimate applicants for land,” the statement added.

The Lands Commission also observed that squatting has been facilitated by persons illegally selling lands in various areas and squatters pay money without receiving titles or agreement for the lands.

Persons interested in applying to lease State and Government Lands should note that there are five (5) Steps:-

1)     Application:

a)                 Sending of a Letter of Expression of Interest to the Commissioner

b)                 Expression of Interest will be forwarded to the respective Regional Office to commence processing

c)                Acknowledgement Letter issued

d)                 GL&SC checks availability of Land and contacts applicant. Applicants could also visit the GL&SC on any Thursday to obtain the status of their request

2)     Inspection:

a)                 An inspection fee is required to be paid for a field inspection

b)                 If the applicant accepts the land, an application form would be issued to the applicant on payment of the prescribed fees.

3)     Approval:

a)                 A Schedule of Applications is prepared and sent to the Office of the President for approval and there is further processing by the Commission

4)     Survey:

a)                 A survey fee is required (once approval is given), and the land would be surveyed. Some lands were block surveyed, and do not require another survey.

b)                 GL&SC surveys 40 acres and above, while private surveyors could be used for less than 40 acres. A Plan is prepared defining the boundaries, and once accepted by the Surveys Division, it is approved and recorded

5)     Lease:

a)                 A lease would be prepared and sent to the respective Regional Office

b)                 At the Regional Office, it is registered and the client is requested to uplift his/her/ lease on payment of the required fees.

·         Lease Issuance: Many applicants uplift Leases every day from GL&SC Offices. These are legitimate titles being of high value, and could be used as collateral in the Commercial Banks also.

·         Squatters should view the receipts they are provided, and determine whether they would ever see a Title since GL&SC is the custodian of all State and Government Lands. The Commission would like to encourage persons who are interested in applying for leased lands to visit the GL&SC Office for further information.

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