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Jul 15, 2014

Lands Commissioner Says Survey on Goff’s Caye is Illegal!

Two weeks after survey pegs were discovered on Goff’s Caye, signalling some sort of planned development, there is still no clue who placed the pegs there. The Ministry tried to pass it off on tour operator Ramon Cervantes, who got a lease for a small portion of the island in 2002, but Cervantes quickly cleared that up. He had proposed to place bathrooms on that location in 2002, but after the Coastal Zone Management Authority shut him down, he squashed that idea. So if it wasn’t Cervantes, who was it? The only body which can give approval to survey on any parcel of land, public or private, is the Lands and Surveys Department, so today News Five went to Lands Commissioner Wilbert Vallejos and asked him. He told us that the Minister has not given any approval to anyone to do anything on Goff’s Caye.

 

Wilbert Vallejos, Lands Commissioner

Wilbert Vallejos

“If any activity is happening right now on Goff’s Caye it is unauthorized activity or some illegal activity. We have been unable to find the name or names of people who are doing activity on Goff’s Caye, and we have asked people around…we’ve even asked the Coastal Zone Management. And we’ll ask you or anybody who has information to let us know. We can’t proceed to cancel any other thing because we haven’t issued anything so it’s not like there’s permission to survey granted weeks ago that we can revoke. We just know that somebody has an interest over it and has not gotten official permission from the government, has not even approached the government to get anything official and so we are still doing our investigations to find out who we can hold responsible for and be able to deal with the person because conducting surveys on the land or on any land without permission is something that can be penalized.The only thing we know is that survey pegs were put, and it seems to be on the same portion of land that was leased. I haven’t found anything else on the land, but that’s it. It looks like when the news broke whoever was conducting activities stopped, so we have been unable to get further information, but we will send our team there to continue to investigate.”

 

Reporter

“Have you ascertained that the survey pegs were recently placed in that area?”

 

Wilbert Vallejos

“Yes. It seems to be. I guess there was some tag or something on the peg, so it seems that it was a new survey, so I guess that’s why people think that the Department is the one who issued permission out…because it’s a recent activity.”

 

Reporter

“When you say tags…would the tags be able to provide any identification as to the survey?”

 

Wilbert Vallejos

“It can provide some information to us but at this point in time we’re just suspecting. We don’t have any information. We’re trying to put our information together, but we have to be very careful how we handle this matter because, you know, making a false accusation can be very serious. But we’re really serious about finding out who it is and we are going to hold them responsible.”

 

Lands Commissioner Vallejos clarified that the lease issued to tour operator Ramon Cervantes has been cancelled, on the grounds of expiry of the lease which was valid for a period of seven years.  

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