December 2, 2007
“Land acquisition has been for the benefit of the people of Nevis”, said Premier of Nevis, Hon. Joseph Parry, during a radio program on Thursday night. The Premier aired this point of view on the popular show, “Tell Me”, on Choice FM with hosts Hastings Daniel and Pat Claxton.
Premier Parry noted that under the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), an act was passed where land could be acquired by Cabinet without going to Parliament to debate the issue. “If you look back at the records you will see that I debated the issue stating that it was not a good idea, because the public would not know the full details of the land acquisition. Now we have had to acquire certain lands in order to develop the island and we have had to use the act as it presently is,” he said.Mr. Parry went on to explain that unlike the previous CCM administration, who made a habit of acquiring land in order to sell it on to foreign developers, all of the present acquisitions were for the direct use of Nevisians, such as a Police Station, a Community Centre, road improvement and housing for Nevisians or to sort out a tangled legal situation.He explained that the first step of the NRP government has always been to have open discussions with all the interested parties, only resorting to acquisition when negotiations became dead locked. A number of the land purchases have been concluded through negotiated agreement, “It is all in the best interest of the people of Nevis“, said Premier Parry.
In an effort to shed some light on the situation, Mr. Parry explained that the fishermen in Cotton Ground and Jessups needed somewhere nearby where they could bring up their boats; because of the recent beach erosion that has been extremely difficult to do. He noted that the fishermen had discussions with the Nevis Island Administration to look at a way forward that would benefit the fishermen and the people of Nevis. “It has become a crisis situation as fishermen have been asked to get off of other people’s land as they have tried to bring up their boats. So as we seek to clean up the beaches from Jessups Bay to Cades Bay, we have had to attain land and do something for the fishermen or we would have to tell the fishermen to go to another part of the island to fish,” he said.
It was also indicated that a Mr. Kawaja had been approached for 20 acres of land in the Cotton Ground area to extend the ball field and facilitate low income housing for the people of Nevis. “We have encouraged the people of Nevis to own land and we would not want to take land from people unnecessarily.” The Premier reminded his listeners:
In the Charlestown area, Government has had discussions with land owners for public interest to build community centres, a fine arts theatre and also to restore neglected properties that need to be salvaged. “In the manifesto of the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) entitled The People’s Agenda, we had stated that we would do something to rescue the Rest Haven property, ( an important part of the history of Nevis) and that is what we are seeking to do.”
According to Premier Parry, he and his cabinet will revisit the act and review it and maybe seek to go back to the original procedure of going to Parliament, but there is no reason for alarm or unnecessary worry, he says, “The Nevis Island Administration is not seeking to take any land in a haphazard manner but for the benefit of the people on Nevis and in the name of development.”