BV Councillor questions transparency in sale of 34 house lots in village

Last Updated on Wednesday, 8 March 2023, 7:07 by Denis Chabrol

The approximate plot of land demarcated in red where the house lots are located at Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara. This is based on an official map of the area.

Beterverwagting-Triumph Councillor Elton Mc Rae on Tuesday questioned the sale of 34 house lots to a number of pers0ns who he said were not eligible in keeping with criteria.

He hoped that his revelation would lead to an investigation and ultimately repossession of the lands. “I think that should happen because there are deserving young teachers, deserving young policemen, deserving carpenters in this village that should get those lands,” he said.

Mr Mc Rae said a number of the house lots were supposedly distributed via a lottery that should have targeted young entrepreneurs in Beterverwagting, but his collection of data from the Deeds Registry shows that a number of the beneficiaries included the Council Chairman Jummaul Bagot himself and several other persons who are perceived to be close to him.

He said he was informed that the criteria were that allotees must not own lands, be from BV-Triumph and be a young entrepreneur. “Most of these here are not from the community,” he said.

Several other persons, who are unconnected to Beterverwagting, have received house lots at GY$1 million each, according to Mr Mc Rae. The lands are located in north Triumph just east of the Muslim cemetery and Bakja Health Movement.

Councillor Mc Rae wants police to probe the distribution of the lands, a process he hopes can eventually lead to the repossession of the lands that were the responsibility of the Neighbourhood Council. “This should lead to an investigation into the activities of the Council even though transports were passed because it’s clear that somebody did not do something right,” he said.

Lingering questions, he said, were why a shortlisting if there was a lottery, who drew the lottery, when it was drawn, why persons other than young entrepreneurs were not eligible and how persons could win twice in a lottery while others did not win.

Initially, Mr Mc Rae said he had learnt that lottery was held in 2020 for 21 lots but the call was limited to the first 30 persons but the dates on a number of the transports go back to 2019. “No one knew when the lottery was drawn; at least the people I have spoken to, all they know is that people were awarded,” he said. But he indicated that the issue was further complicated when he checked at the Deeds Registry and found that the area instead has 34 house lots. “If you have 34 house lots, who would you then only take 30 applicants? That there is one of the mysteries we have to deal with,” he queried.

NDC Chairman Jummaul Bagot

After buyers had raised concerns that they were not getting their transports, Mr Mc Rae said another councillor  raised the issue at Council in December 2022 and it was only then the council was told that there were 21 house lots. “I did not get a response to the rationale for distribution,” he said but his investigation was prompted by claims in the village that persons had sold themselves the land.

The Councillor provided the media with a detailed list of transports, including the dates issued, and his own findings that he said showed that 14 house lots were linked to the Council.

The Councillor said he formally wrote Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall and when the letter was sent back to the Council, he was asked to name the persons but declined to do so unless the names were first put to him.

He had previously opposed the Council’s sale of lands to John Fernandes Limited and Mohammed Sons and Daughters but the latter company later withdrew the court case. Incidentally, he said Mohammed Sons and Daughters