LETTER: Land forcibly being acquired from nationals

12

Dear fellow citizens of Antigua and Barbuda,

The government of our country has decided recently to acquire our land for “school expansion”-over an acre of prime commercial land off Valley/Kentish road for “school expansion” claiming the laws of compulsory acquisition. It could make sense on one hand because the children need space to learn comfortably however, what’s Interesting is, they are aiming to do this while they have more than enough space and resources to build vertically like Pares school, Antigua Girls High School, Jennings school, etc. while they also have an unfinished two story structure on the property, I’ve personally seen in the same position for about the past 20 years and I’m only 27. I’ve been told the structure is for a community center, started by a previous administration. So what we have here is a government that would rather acquire more of the people’s land, over 43,560 square feet of it, with taxpayers money when they struggle to pay previous debts like pensioners or let alone finish previous projects on the same land they’re aiming to add to. This isn’t a rich developer versus the government type of story, this is a modest family up the hill who have plans for their family’s land and have deep, positive and constructive roots to this country for generations and if they will do it to us they will do it to you.

Imagine a family that has taught the children of this Island, displayed our culture through prominent paintings, curated our dear museum with articles you still see to this day, served on the industrial court after being a permanent secretary for over 20+ years, while also being a founder of HAS, the organization that focuses on historical and archeological development of our dear country, and much more. In short, the service to this country runs deep and for generations within our family and EVEN THEN, the government is trying to take advantage of our family and my grandmother hasn’t even been gone for five years. My mother, born in a house on Kentish Rd., less than a half mile from the subject property, is part of this country. No matter how far we may stray from home to learn and explore opportunities to bring back home, we should not be threatened by our own government for our own land, ESPECIALLY when there are other obligations at hand that can better our country and community as whole while they have the resources to do it or maybe there’s just a lack of foresight for the people’s future. When you sit with the Minister of Education and you’re met with no answers to the simple questions of, “How many children will this ‘expansion’ accommodate?” or “what does this ‘expansion’ look like?”. It makes you wonder, what are our Honourables really up to, because if it was about positively impacting the community they could’ve done that already with the abundance of land and the unfinished “community center” on the compound. Furthermore, I don’t even see so much as two proper goal posts for the field or even a playground for a whole primary school. How do they justify acquiring over an acre of land with an existing two-family building on a busy corner to “expand” a primary school?

I write this to inform you of our government’s moves and because the community’s voice to get justice is what we need, and justice is taking back our land, or at least a majority of it. This way we as a family of nationals can develop it further for our community in terms of trade, employment, creative purpose and more as we planned to and were in the process of doing so. We welcome serving our community with the land to expand the school as necessary however with all things considered such as acquiring over an acre of land during a state of emergency to expand a large underdeveloped school compound that has unfinished projects already, is only disadvantageous to the same people they claim to serve. The law states “just compensation” would be due but why even acquire to have to compensate or exchange lands, when there’s a more efficient way to expand, if we just build up or finish projects that were started? It leads to unnecessary expenses on a society that has already gone through hardship and taking one of the most precious things a national has in their country, land. I ask for your voice and your feedback on this matter as this is not only what’s happening to us but what will further happen to all of us if we don’t exercise our voice for a more self-sufficient future for our dear country, Antigua and Barbuda.

Stay tuned for developments of this matter and let us hear your voice below in the comments or on facebook.com/ABetterWadadli

Sincerely,

Calvin Thomas

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Thomas why was yr voice not heard before now……? Is this a rat race or a political ploy as a support for the intented candidate for that constituency? Furthermore, are you one of those persons who may see a property, be it a parcel of land, a building or the two that has not being used for a lengthy period of time by anyone and then, immediately you show interest after someone decides to put the property to good use? If an object looks like a fish and it smells like a fish then the chances of it being a fish is very high. I am only hoping that your interest is not an act of political badmindedness

  2. @straight talk I appreciate your feedback and I can assure you this is not a political ploy. The land in question was my grandmother’s land that has been used over the years and is currently occupied. We have had further plans for the land that will impact the community positively and when we started our first phase of said plan, they circled back claiming they need the land desperately for expansion for this current school year. My argument is this, why is the government obtaining more land from nationals and giving the rightful, generational, tax paying owners NO ultimatum to even part with a portion of the land. There is space to build efficiently upwards on the current compound and unfinished buildings on the land to be used first that would award the children the space indoors and out to develop their skills as well as play. Isn’t that why you would want to “expand” in the first place?

  3. Land Owner,challenged it in Court. An Administration in Antigua and Barbuda tried to take my Property using Eminent Domain crap.I had my Lawyer get on top of that “dung” and challenged it and they backed down. They were going to sell those lands to Alan Stanford.See where Stanford is now.

    • Thank you for your feedback Wharf Rat. We definitely see where Stanford is now. How exactly did you challenge it may I ask?

      • @Calvin Thomas:
        I engaged a Lawyer in Antigua. That Lawyer wrote a letter to those in the fray. She did tell them that her Client is willing to go to the Privy Council if the need arises. I was willing to fight to the end. So you and your relatives need to dig in and come out fighting. The Laws are there to be challenged in the Court of Laws. Do not be disheartened. Good Luck !!

  4. Fight them like hell. You sound reasonable. They will do nothing positive with it. They never do. Oh it’s Political but it’s about somebody wanting what you have. They never think about past Administration projects. Somebody is lying. I wish you well but do not give up. and when you win the court case make sure they pay your legal fees

  5. Fight for your land in the court system. I know the Top Dawg since we were children and we are friends. His main purpose is to own half of Antigua and Barbuda which has always been his dream since he was a young man hanging out on the block. Yes, it is time we catch up with the twenty-first century and construct our schools to a more upward structure. From looking on the map in the article, the school can complete the abandoned building on the premises and construct another floor level and still have space for recreational. Poor black Antiguans and Barbudans will always suffer under the hands of the ABLP.

  6. I for some reason doubt that whatever plans you had to help better the “community” are anywhere near as beneficial as expanding a primary school, by all means challenge it in the courts but I don’t think the court of public opinion is with you on this one.

    • REALLY?

      So you prefer the eyesore of an unfinished building which can serve as the expansion remain? You prefer for them to take the peoples land away, pretend they’re going to use it for one purpose then sell to a non-Antiguan; using the treasury’s money? Are you thinking with the brain in your head?

  7. Thought they only take people’s land to build roads. Could we have that school moved and build a proper roundabout? Those lights take ages.

    • Thanks for your feedback! know all to well government can acquire for any public purpose however the issue at hand here is they have decided to acquire more land for a compound with more than enough space to expand and furthermore they can’t even explain how the expansion will impact the community on a number of different levels. HOWEVER, I love your roundabout idea for that light! Maybe they can create a hybrid roundabout with a light during school hours. Now that would be an improvement for the public!

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