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Sunday, January 22, 2006 

Meeting on Land titles
Monday, January 16th 2006

The age-old problem faced by landowners to obtain legal titles to their property will soon be solved in Tobago.

Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma who discussed the problem with Chief Secretary Orville London recently has mandated Tobago-born Justice of Appeal Ivor Archie to seek a solution to the matter. As a result he met with a cross section of the Tobago community on Friday at the Mt Irvine Bay Hotel to get the views of Tobagonians on the Real Property Ordinance and other issues affecting land ownership in the island.

Also attending the meeting were Legal Affairs Minister Christine Kangaloo, Tobago Affairs Minister Stanford Callender and Chief Secretary Orville London.

Kangaloo told the meeting that there were three pieces of legislation on land laws before the Legislative Review Committee of Cabinet and regulations were now being drafted to accompany them.

She said the legislation would provide for adjudication of land disputes by a tribunal.

Kangaloo disclosed that the Registrar General's Department was moving to have all the services provided at its Port of Spain office also done at the new location being sought for the Scarborough branch. She said two title examiners would be coming to Tobago on a monthly basis to meet with attorneys on particular files in an effort to clear the backlog.

However, Justice Archie said the tribunal process was not going to be a "quick fix". He explained that the tribunal would invite the public to attend sittings and make representations on the particular property in dispute and would assign it to the best person although it may not be the perfect choice.

Former parliamentarian Pam Nicholson told the meeting that a number of persons who owned land in the Bon Accord/Crown Point area were still awaiting compensation for the compulsory acquisition of their land by the government for airport expansion. She said while Government Minister Knowlson Gift was seeking millions of dollars before the High Court for his property, other landowners had to settle for a take it or leave it $3 per square foot. London responded by saying that the Assembly was aware of the problem and wanted the people to get a better deal. He said there were options open to the Assembly but it didn't want to set a precedent.

Attorney Christo Gift related the difficulties of lawyers in the island to settle land titles quickly, saying that it took between five to seven years to complete. He said the delay was mainly because of the requirement in the Real Property Ordinance and its rules to produce information that was difficult or impossible to obtain.

Independent Senator Dr Eastlyn McKenzie lamented that for years in parliament, representatives from Tobago have been clamouring for a solution to land tenure in the island and welcomed the move to solve the problem.

© Tobago News

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