Platform of Truth leader Hochoy Charles says the long-standing issue of land titles in Tobago must be addressed "once and for all."
Speaking at a recent public meeting, hosted by the Tobago Liberation and Empowerment Team in Plymouth, Charles said Tobagonians have been deprived of the ability to transact any business involving their properties, as a result of not having proper titles and deeds.
“One Tobago voice is the only way out of this problem," he told the small crowd, citing the motto of the coalition team comprising Tobago Forwards, Tobago Organisation of the People and Platform of Truth. The coalition is claiming "one Tobago voice" is the solution to many problems plaguing the island.
Charles, speaking at the Plymouth meeting, said the land title issue stemmed from Tobago's colonial past.
“Every single Caribbean country that was under British rule had the same problem with land titles as we have in Tobago, everybody knows that. Guyana had the same land title problem, Jamaica had the same land title problem, St Lucia had the same land title problem, Antigua had it... Guyana solved theirs, those problems are already solved.
Charles blamed the Government for not treating the issue with the required urgency and not taking Tobago's issues seriously.
"The Guyanese government is Guyanese, so they fixed their land problem in Guyana. The Antiguans fixed theirs because Antiguans are the government in Antigua, so they fixed the land problem in Antigua. The St Lucians are the government in St Lucia, so they fixed their problem of the land title. Tobago own can’t fix over 100 years."
Charles added, “Trinidad government, they are the government in Tobago and they want to have the land titles just where they are. So that they can go in the Red House in Trinidad, sort it up and so on and your lands are lost to you in Tobago. They want it so."
Charles promised to rectify the situation in less than a year.
“One Tobago voice will fix that. You don’t even want a year after one Tobago voice get the power for Tobago; one Tobago voice will fix that within one year, this is not old talk. Just like Guyana did theirs, St Lucia, Antigua and all of them fix their problem, we go fix ours.”
In 2018, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi called the land titles issue in Tobago an " absolute disaster."
He said deeds were being lodged in safe places such as churches and many residents relying on anecdote and memory to establish ownership. “The Government will bring relief. It starts in Tobago,” Al-Rawi said.