Urgent Need to Rebuild Integrity in the Surveying Profession in Guyana

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Dear Editor,

The United Nations, Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, stated that ‘Corruption is criminal, immoral and the ultimate betrayal of public trust’. One of the main reasons one ought to do the right things as a public official or officer, is simply because people who provide public services, play an enormously important role in a democratic society and in maintaining peace, and the well-being of the people in that society.

The actions or lack of any actions or decisions or lack of decisions by public officials/officers, can either assist members of the public to find solutions to their problems or increase the severity of those problems. They can either assist in enabling the society to grow or to remain stagnant. Their decisions and actions can also make life extremely difficult for people whose resources are limited, as well as, expose them to unnecessary abuse.

Editor, I have heard many stories of surveyors who do all sorts of unprofessional things for their clients and the money, without giving thought to the difficulties which will be created for others. One of my relatives employed a surveyor to survey a portion of land, in drawing up the plan, the surveyor did not mention that people were occupying portions of the land, the plan showed as if the land was clear of any occupation. The person proceeded to acquire Prescriptive Title for the land and later served notice for the occupants who were there, even while the survey was being done, to be removed. The surveyor even included land that was previously surveyed and had an existing plan. Now had the surveyor acted honestly and professionally, the hardship created for those persons might not have been created.


Additionally, the surveyor included lands in the plan which the client did not even asked to be included, however, and they got Prescriptive Title and claimed ownership, however, though challenged. Surveyors are even shifting boundary lines without the knowledge of the owners of these properties, etc.

Another situation that needs to be addressed is with regards, to transports.  Editor, you have no idea some of the difficulties people are experiencing. Now if a matter is before the courts, for example, someone has filed a Petition for Prescriptive Title for a portion  of land, and someone is Opposing as the authentic land/property owner; one would be of the view that if they do not have a copy of the title or transport, or lease,  that it would be easy to acquire a certified copy from the relevant public office, and sometimes only to discover that the transport for example, has been torn out of the records.

Nobody should accept any amount of money to tear out a transport from official records, that is criminal. Editor, I can go on an on with the examples, but lets’ look what can be done.

I believe that periodic assessments need to be done of the matters which are filed in the Land Court (Land Court Registry) for Prescriptive Title and analyse the frequency of instances where people would have filed Notice of Opposition and the nature of the Opposition, this will provide an indication of the extend of the surveying challenges, or the scale of the illegalities and what possible reforms are needed.

Another recommendation is that there is need for a massive civic education programme throughout the country and at all levels. Public and private officials, officers who engage in corrupt practices and members of the public who make these illegal requests of these individuals, have to give serious consideration to the fact that it does not end at the act of corruption or negligence, the implications in many instances are severe and can go on for decades. As in the case of the surveyor that was mentioned above, the surveyor leaves with his money but at least six people are now in court fighting to maintain their right to occupation; they had to find money for legal fees, take time off to attend court, etc.

This matter will be reported to the Chairman of the Surveying Board, the Guyana Police Force, if necessary, and the possibility will be explored for private criminal charges or taking the surveyor to court in a private action.

Editor, in the more specific sense, the integrity of the surveying profession needs to be addressed immediately, and in the wider society, corruption at all levels of our society needs to stop ‘’corruption is criminal, immoral and betrays trust’.

We need to ‘Stop Corruption in our Society!

Yours faithfully,
Audreyanna Thomas

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