Crown Point resident claims: I was never paid for my land
Crown Point resident Wolwin Lovell maintains that he has never received payment for a parcel of land he owns and occupies at Block D of the ANR Robinson International Airport Expansion Project.
And, in spite of statements made by both the MP for Tobago West Shamfa Cudjoe and Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, who accused residents of “double dipping” for Government compensation, Lovell said he has all the legal documents to support his claim.
Armed with a file of documents, Lovell contacted Guardian Media to “clear the air” although he was not identified by name. He said he stepped forward because he was previously accused by government officials, of trying to solicit payment for land already owned by the state.
Holding up his registered deed he said, “You can see the deed registered in the Red House of Port of Spain in whose name Wolvin Lovell if you turn here you can see here registered here September 29, 1995 Register General’s office Red House Port of Spain so this is my official document registered in my name so I don’t know where they getting this false talk from I never got paid I never see a check or signed off on any money.”
When asked if he knows of any payments being made to his father for property in the area, he said his fathers owned several parcels of land at Crown Point and NIDCO needed to “get their facts straight.”
He said, “I do not know anything about that, I told NIDCO to go to Buccco Public Cemetery and dig up Gaston Lovel and ask him about that. This land belongs to me Wolwin Lovell I pay my tax look I have up to WASA clearance in whose name Wolwin Lovel I paid my tax over the years.”
During the presentation of checks for the Government’s Self Help programme last week, Cudjoe gave an update on the compensation exercise for residents who are being relocated for the ANR Robinson International Airport Expansion Project.
She said the exercise was ongoing and each case is unique, she spoke of a case where new a set of payments is being sought for land that was already acquired by the Government.
“We have one resident who reached out and said that they were not being paid and they felt as if they were being treated unfairly and research done by the Ministry of Finance shows that when the previous Airport Acquisition was done in the 1990’s that his father already accepted payment and agreed to leave around 2008,” she said.
She also addressed the issue on social media where she stated that the now-deceased resident submitted a claim for compensation in July 1996. And according to Cudjoe’s post, the deceased conveyed a portion of the land to him (Lovell) in 1995.
And in 1996 Chief State Solicitor stated that payment for the entire plot of land be made to the father since the land was vested in the father at the time of acquisition.
She said payments were made for the property between 2006-2008 and in April 2008, the original owner wrote to the Commissioner of State Lands stating that the land will be vacated within one month of receipt of the balance of payment due to him.
And, in June 2008 the original owner signed a receipt confirming full and final payment for the acquisition of the land and the land should be vacated by the end of July 2008.
On Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert also addressed the issue during a virtual press conference where he said his Ministry has launched an investigation into fresh compensation claims for lands at Crown Point already acquired by the state. He said the lands were never relinquished to the Government.
“Some of the parents owned that land, the land was paid for, their children remained and the children are now claiming compensation so it’s a very complicated thing and it may have to be adjudicated by a competent authority like a court of law or something to determine what are the facts, what are the entitlements.”
Guardian Media also sought an opinion from attorney Martin George who said the issue is not as simple as it may seemed.
George said, “If the lands that were previously paid for have since been alienated, sold, transferred or otherwise divested from the original owners who may have received compensation and who would have moved off or given up possession of the land and they would have subsequently transferred title to a new owner then that new owner would on the face of it be entitled to compensation.”
According to George, once that new owner is the “bona fide owner for value without notice” then that new owner can make a claim for compensation from the government as the new owner can say whatever you paid the previous owner has nothing to do with me because I am the new owner and therefore you need to meet with me and pay me my just due if it is you are seeking to acquire my lands.
By: Loyse Vincent