Assembly questions Minister Charlette on various projects under her ministry |02 October 2019
The National Assembly yesterday sat for a session in which Minister for Habitat, Lands, Infrastructure and Land Transport (MHILT) Pamela Charlette answered the assembly’s questions pertaining to numerous projects under her ministry.
Minister Charlette was accompanied by principal secretary for land Fanette Albert, principal secretary for infrastructure Yves Choppy and chief executive of the Property Management Corporation (PMC) Evelina Antat.
Honourable Churchill Gill was interested in the plot allocated to travel company Vacanze located at Côte d’Or, Praslin clarifying whether there are possibilities to subdivide the plots to allow others to benefit.
Minister Charlette noted that the said plots have been leased for a period of 99 years at a cost of $7.5 million (USD) and that at least 60 percent of the plot contains some form of structure. The lease was signed in 2007 and is thus in its 13th year, and since the developer is respecting the conditions of the lease, they cannot be forced to subdivide the land or vacate the land.
Minister Charlette elaborated to note that the ministry has already identified 9 plots at Anse la Blague and Côte d’Or, Praslin to be placed at the disposal of interested investors which, according to Minister Charlette, will be tendered by the Seychelles Investment Bureau (SIB).
In response to Minister Charlette’s response about the history of the parcels leased to Vacanze Seychelles, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Wavel Ramkalawan proposed that the ministry seize the land on account of the inquiry into the Parmalat scandal in which the lease transaction is also being questioned.
According to a Wall Street Journal article dated March 8, 2004, Calisto Tanzi, the founder of dairy supergiant Parmalat, alleges that he spearheaded years of fraud and allegedly fraudulently filed for bankruptcy for his business despite having phantom accounts worth billions of dollars. The article also makes reference to the lease noting that “checks and bank transfers show $12.3 million actually left the firm” but that “it is unclear what happened to the $4.8 million difference”.
Other questions related to progress made on projects within different districts such as access roads to plots from the land bank which Minister Charlette noted the government is working towards ensuring that all land are accessible not only in terms of road access but also for utilities such as electricity and water prior to allocation.
Minister Charlette noted that there are 24 projects towards constructing access roads for land bank and all are expected to be completed towards the end of 2019, prior to allocation of the plots.
She also noted that the ministry makes provision for areas in which access roads are relatively easy and cheap to construct, for the buyer to buy the plot at a reduced value on condition that they take responsibility for building the access road.
The assembly requested a list of land bank projects and associated road projects for 2019 and 2020 to which Minister Charlette agreed.
Honourable Jean-François Ferrari sought clarifications about a land bank plot where he claims someone was allocated a large plot at Port Glaud, to the dissatisfaction of the residents. Minister Charlette noted that the size of plots allocated depend on the topography of the land.
Honourable Sylvanne Lemiel, the member for Anse Royale, enquired whether a site has been identified for leisure activities within her district to which Minister Charlette responded by referring to the draft land use plan, noting that a site has been identified near the district administration to eventually be called the fun park and that the second site is situated opposite the first one. The Seychelles Planning Authority (SPA) has a plan for the leisure sites.
Members of the assembly questioned why the ministry has not taken action against an investor who acquired a plot for a touristic development at the beach park, Anse Royale, and was awarded the tender in 2016.
In response to Honourable Norbert Loizeau’s query about housing projects in Bel Air, Minister Charlette noted that three plots, V16214, V812 are for the construction of housing and V20899 as part of the 24 houses in 24 districts project.
Members of the assembly expressed concerns over the structure and design of some of the houses under the social housing scheme and on housing estates pointing out space constraints, narrow staircases, leaking roofs as well as other design flaws.
Honourable Noline Sophola, the member for La Digue and the inner islands proposed that playgrounds be incorporated into the design of housing estates to which Minister Charlette noted that the ministry provides for playground space but that the department of local government assists with playground equipment.
Minister Charlette on different occasions assured the assembly that the ministry is reviewing the designs of social housing and that work has been carried out to address the inconsistencies since 2017. For instance, she referred to the new housing estate at Pascal Village in which the rooms have been designed to be larger than before and includes built-in furniture, Ile Perseverance, among others.
Before concluding the question and answer session, the assembly proposed that the ministry reconsider security measures for the newly built road at Bois de Rose where there has been two fatal accidents recently to which she agreed that a survey is being carried out to evaluate what safety and security measures are necessary.