Georgetown, Guyana – (January 29, 2018) Noting Government’s plans to accelerate physical infrastructural development, agricultural diversification, renewable energy projects, agro-industrial processing and affordable housing drives, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, charged the eight graduates of the Sworn Land Surveyors Course offered by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), to uphold the tenets of their profession, which are professionalism, integrity and accuracy. Noting that their role is critical to development plans, the Minister urged the graduates to guard against what he called professional dishonesty.

The Minister made these remarks at the swearing-in ceremony hosted in the GLSC Boardroom at Durban Backlands where it was also announced that an internship programme will be introduced in 2019 for new surveyors. Noting that the lawful occupation of land is a key element in the orderly development of any society and in the peaceful coexistence of those who live and work close to each other, Minister Harmon said land surveyors must recognise their duty to their clients and to society as a whole. He added that they must also take seriously the role they play in ensuring the success of the wide range of development projects the Government is embarking on.

“These activities will take place in all regions of Guyana, on the coastland, in the hinterland and will entail making available large tracks of land in an orderly fashion and in ways that will facilitate those investments. This is in addition to the challenges that the [Guyana] Land and Surveys Commission faces to carry out its routine functions in relation to the ongoing demand for services related to the issues in established areas for land occupancy. There is, therefore, no shortage of work for land surveyors. On the contrary, I do believe that we may need to urgently increase the training of land surveyors to satisfy the demand for cadastral work that our impending development trusts will require,” he said. He told graduates that their roles and functions ensure orderly occupation of land and legitimises its economic use.

Speaking from his own experience, the State Minister said, “While in private practice, I did most of my work in the land court and sometimes for years you will have cases going on because neighbours can’t agree where a boundary falls. I have been in a case that… had been going on for about 10 years, and when I left [the field] I think it was still going on simply because [someone’s] fence is in a certain way and two surveyors couldn’t agree where the boundary should fall. Both surveyors believed they were right and the clients had a right to rely on the professional work of their surveyors. So in this case now the court had to come in and determine between these two surveyors, who is right and who is wrong. I believe that surveying is an exact science and therefore it cannot be who is right and who is wrong. It is what the science says. If it says this is boundary, this is the boundary. It is not because your client pays you more money, that you will say well this is not the boundary. That is professional dishonesty and we have to be guard against that.

On this note, Minister Harmon said that land surveyors required to provide a service that is honest, impartial and fair adding that their function must be discharged in a way that minimises the chances of discord and land disputes.

“They are, therefore, expected to execute their tasks with integrity and to adhere to the highest standard of professional ethics, what constitutes the professional conduct of a land surveyor. I wish to submit some of these requirements… They are, first of all, to observe strictly the standard operating procedure as set out by the Land and Surveys Commission. I believe that if we do that, many of the issues that we have will be resolved. We have done periods of training in the Standard Operating Procedures; follow it. Secondly, to provide accurate descriptions of surveyed lands for the preparation of legal documents such as transports, leases and grants. You see how important your work is? Every transport, every lease, every grant, is subjected to a survey plan. So it is your plan on which all of these things rest. And if you’re not accurate, if you’re not honest with your lines and your boundaries, you will have serious problems with transport, leases and grants. Thirdly, you should strive at all times to serve the public interest, in particular the Government surveyors,” he charged.

Meanwhile, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GLSC, Mr. Trevor Benn, in his remarks said that land surveys are integral and inextricably linked to the Commission fulfilling its mandate as he noted that more than 50 percent of the functions outlined in the GLSC Act chapter 59:05 require the active participation of surveyors.

Given its importance, Mr. Benn said that the Commission has taken the decision to implement a system of internship in 2019 for those who are successful at the examinations, before they are administered the oath. “In keeping with the Land Surveyors Profession Act, the Board of Lands and Survey that we have started in 2019 all have prospective grandaunts must complete a period of internship with an assigned senior surveyor before they are eligible for swearing in. This means that 2018 will be the last year that we will be swearing in candidates who would have not been exposed through internships with a senior surveyor,” he said.

Further, Mr. Benn said that the Commission has engaged the Government Technical Institute (GTI) and the University of Guyana (UG) to support training. In the case of GTI, support will be given through the Surveyors programme while the Commission is working with the University of Guyana to develop a Land Administration diploma programme.

Meanwhile, best graduating student, Mr. Katfai Sue said that while become a land surveyor was never his dream, he fell in love with the subject while pursuing a Degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Guyana. However, now that he has chosen this career path, Mr. Sue said that he is committed to conducting his role at the highest possible standard.

“A land surveyor is a highly recognised profession, which carries a high standard of excellence as shown by seasoned veterans of the field and as new surveyors. We should keep it that way. Passing the examination should not be easy otherwise everyone will be able to become land surveyors. Those who have not succeeded this year should not become discouraged. Failure is not for us to stop trying but for us to try harder,” he said.

Thirty-two prospective surveyors participated in the programme but only eight were successful at the examination.

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