Yesterday, we brought you a story of a land dispute occurring in Dangriga, that land is parcel 991 and is located near the main bridge. Since 2000, the Dangriga Town Council has been in a tug of war for the area. We spoke to Mayor of Dangriga, Gilbert Swaso about that matter yesterday on Rise and Shine.  But, the Mayor also told us about another parcel of land #1217 that the Council has been tirelessly trying to obtain. That land is situated on Front Street, on the beach, north of the Carl Ramos Football Stadium. But according to the Dangriga Mayor, there have been survey works at the area and not by the Council. Mayor Swaso told us he found out about this Tuesday.

Gilbert Swaso – Mayor of Dangriga:
vlcsnap-2013-05-09-20h02m37s134So that is the same property, parcel number 12-17. On Tuesday of this week, about 5:30, I was heading from Belize to Dangriga, and I was called stating that a survey is taking place on that property.  I asked Members of the Town Council and a Councilor to proceed to investigate what is taking place there.  We then found Mr Kelly from Sittee River, who claims that he has been directed by the Ministry of Natural Resources to survey that same piece of property.  It is our understanding it is for and on behalf of the UDP Headquarters in Dangriga, who seemingly will put an Exacutive Headquarters there.

The Mayor asserts that in February of 2002, the Council, through then Mayor Cassian Nunez, applied for Grant of National Land at the Ministry of Natural Resources and that since that time, subsequent Councils have sought to finalize this transaction with a view to provide the infrastructure for Tourism and Economic Development for the people of Dangriga. And since Mayor Swaso has gotten into office, he says, he reactivated the Council’s efforts to obtain a title for the land, but they too have had little to no luck.

Gilbert Swaso – Mayor of Dangriga:
[For] over a year now, we have been talking to the Lands department with a view to get title as will.  We are told that there’s no need for us to apply because the application is there.  We were told that.  We are saying that for us to create the opportunity for job creation and for employment, this is an area that we can partner, or do something like what Belize City do, get a bond, or get a loan, as the Municipal body, to develop that area, so that we can get our people employed. But you cacn only do that if you have title for the land.

As the Mayor stated, the Council intends to use the land for commercial purposes. Mayor Swaso emphasized the need for more industries, cultural and tourism that will generate employment and profit earnings for the Dangriga municipality. Via the use of a powerpoint, he took us through the Council’s projected plan for the land.

Gilbert Swaso – Mayor of Dangriga:
We have a plan where we intend to have [an] Agricultural Center there. If you notice, we intend to have a Marina where we can accomodate a birth for smaller vessels, and even extend it to a point where we can also accomodate larger vessels. We believe that that is the direction to go. We also believe that there is an opportunity to have different booths, so that out locals can come into that same area, to sell their gifts, arts, and culture. That is what we beiieve. Now, by continuing to divide this area to put a headquarters, is not neccesarity the way that we want to go. We firmly believe, and humbly believe, that if we consult together, we can come up with a plan that will fit into the landscape, and will get something that will involve our people for the craetion of wealth.

vlcsnap-2013-05-10-18h11m57s98In a press release issued today by the Mayor’s office, he asserts that the Council was never consulted by the Ministry of Natural Resources regarding surveying works by the resident of Sittee River. The release ends by saying “The Dangriga Town Council hereby requests the Government of Belize to demonstrate compassion and to include Dangriga in all its national developmental strategies.” Plus news this afternoon, spoke with CEO in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Beverly Castillo, who informed us that she isn’t able to speak on this matter, as she does not have the respective information on, or map of the land at this moment. She did say however that the Ministry is not tasked with issuing land titles to Town Councils, but instead, the Council must submit a development plan through the Local Government. We also asked her about the parcel of land 991, near the main bridge. She asserts that permission has been granted to that Dangriga resident to possess only a portion of that land, the portion that he initially had possession of in 2000. She emphasized that she, along with the Commissioner and Mayor Swaso, have spoken on these issues on multiple occasions and that the Mayor has been made aware of the proper procedure that the Council must take in order to obtain a parcel of land.