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BM Soat’s “illegal” fence costing coffers $millions

Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn explains the demarcation of lands for the widening of the East Coast Demerara Public Road

Guyana’s treasury has so far lost GUY$40 million due to delays in widening the East Coast Demerara public road because of the erection of what government says are an illegal fence and other structures by BM Soat Auto dealership, government said Monday.

Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn insisted that BM Soat has encroached on public property at Chateau Margot that had been earmarked for expansion of the road since 1973 by the then Peoples National Congress-led administration.

Benn said government has lost million dollars dating back to 2007 when the Neighbourhood Democratic Council and the Public Works Ministry had issued notices for BM Soat to remove structures. “There are delays in the consstruction so there are time-costs so time costs money and we have to carry costs as this project goes along in respect of the supervision,” he said. He declined to say whether government would seek compensation from BM Soat.

The minister assured that government did not flout the Court Order because it was only during the removal of the debris that the businessman, Bashair Mohamed’s lawyer turned up with the order.

Workers, he said, began breaking down the fence and a hut after Mohammed failed to honour a promise on December 27, 2013 that he would remove the alleged encumbrances.

The Public Works Minister released details showing that the land currently occupied by BM Soat exceeds the 57,934 square feet vested in him by the Transport which he presented as evidence of ownership by 7,797 square feet.  He also accused Mohamed of covering surveyors’ palls during the course of constructing the fence and allegedly encroaching on State lands by taking up 1,306 square feet on the northern boundary.

With Mohamed going back to Court to block the Ministry from breaking down any more structures, Benn said that amounted to an abuse of the judicial system. “The ministry views the resort to further action in the Court as an attempt by Mohamed to abuse the judicial process and an affront to the government,” he said.

The Minister refused to say definitively whether workers would again demolish even the temporary fence even if the matter drags on in the Court of Appeal.