Elderly woman awaits payment for land 20 years after forced acquisition
An attorney is threatening legal action against the Government for failing to compensate an elderly woman whose property was forcibly acquired more than 20 years ago under the Northern Coastal Highway improvement project.
Attorney Hugh Wildman said the National Works Agency, NWA, has agreed to pay his client, Pauline Hojan, $9 million for the three-acre property at Cousins Cove, Hanover, but has so far failed to do so because it said it does not have the funds and the Ministry of Finance has not released the money to pay for the property.
However, NWA said the issue relates to a caveat lodged against the property.
Responding to Financial Gleaner queries, the works agency's CEO, E.G. Hunter, said his agency received a request for payment of the $9 million on April 11. However, allocations for the project in the national Budget tabled in Parliament this year only amounted to $500,000.
Hunter said NWA wrote to its parent ministry the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation on April 18, advising that three transactions, including the Cousins Cove property, were ready for payment and sought its assistance in obtaining the funds.
"This information was communicated to the attorney representing the property owner," he added.
Since then, however, the NWA received correspondence on April 26 instructing them to hold payment of the award to Hojan as a caveat was lodged against the property, preventing any dealings with the title.
Wildman told the Financial Gleaner that when the Government acquired the land the caveat was already lodged and Hojan has agreed to fulfil any obligation once the money is paid by the NWA to her or her representative.
In the April 18 letter addressed to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Audrey Sewell, the NWA advised that the total bill for land acquisition for the Northern Coastal Highway submitted by the National Land Agency for immediate settlement was $24.03 million, including the award to Hojan.
In the letter, the NWA also pointed out that the lawyers for the landowners as well as the vendors themselves had been pressing the agency for payment. "The ministry is therefore required to take appropriate action to secure the necessary funds as soon as possible," the NWA said.