YOU might think owning a 10,000 square foot parcel of land atop Lady Chancellor Hill, which overlooks the Queen’s Park Savannah, would be a definite plus in your favour, not to mention a potential money spinner.
But this is Trinidad, the land of the ineffable con. And for Katherine Scott Stollmeyer and her good friend, Catherine Stollmeyer Wight, that parcel of land that they jointly own atop Lady Chancellor is now causing them endless grief.
Apparently some people who believe they have more right to the land that the rightful owners have been throwing their weight around, have even gone so far as to get a bogus deed registered laying claim to the land and in spite of warnings, pleas and threats of legal action by the Stollmeyer women, the dispute rages on.
The fact that some buildings, including what is apparently a guest house, have gone up close to the disputed plot of land has only made things worse.
A few weeks ago, anticipating a definite land grab, the Stollmeyer women had a large sign erected on their land, Lot No 7, broadcasting the fact that this particular parcel of land was NOT for sale. The sign was soon taken down by the people who are challenging their rightful ownership of the land, who are in fact trying to muscle in on the land—and much as they might want to avoid the high litigation costs involved, it looks as though the Stollmeyer women are going to have to take the issue to court and establish once and for all who really owns the land.
They have gone so far as to write a pre-action protocol letter to the man challenging their ownership to the land, calling on him to report to the court on the ownership issue. That simply hasn’t happened. The letter has just been totally ignored.
So a kind of open-ended wangling over the real ownership of the land continues—and it would appear that this is a fairly regular practice in Trinidad and Tobago.
Out of the blue, people make ownership claims to land, whether private or State-owned, and find it fairly easy to register all sorts of bogus deeds with the Registrar General’s department.
The cost of taking land issues to court and having them settled by judicial means can be very expensive. And if legitimate owners simply don’t have the money, they virtually have to allow the trespasser/s to take over their land.
Now I wonder if newly-appointed Minister of National Security, Senator Gary Griffith, can make an intervention here and help resolve an issue that apparently affects hundreds of people since land grabbing has apparently become a popular new form of breaking the law—and getting away with it.
I know we don’t have “land police”, as such, but perhaps Senator Griffith can assign a special Land Squad to investigate this issue, reporting back directly to him. It won’t be as dramatic as a crackdown on warring gangs of criminals but if it does begin to legitimise the land issue it will certainly make life a lot easier for quite a number of people who are now living between a rock and a hard place —but certainly not on the land that is legitimately theirs because the land grabbers are actively at it.
Finally, for the record, let me just add—call it a positive vibration, call it a reliable sixth sense or call it plain old wishful thinking, but I have a strong feeling that Senator Griffith’s appointment as Minister of National Security is going to have a positive impact on the runaway crime spree that has been going on in this country for some time now.
In anticipation of this I want to congratulate him on his appointment and to welcome him to what is undoubtedly one of the most critical ministries in Trinidad and Tobago today.
I know we had a former army man in this post before, Brigadier John Sandy, and it didn’t seem to make much difference. But I have a sense that Mr Griffith is going to use both his training in criminology and his youthful enthusiasm to really begin to make a real difference. And it’s about high time too.
Mark my words!