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Leonora Housing scheme owners defend project

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 7.20.07 PMWe turn now to the ongoing controversy surrounding a posh new housing scheme at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.

The building of American-style homes up at Leonora, West Coast Demerara, was not the intended use for the 16-acre parcel of land sold to South American Woods, one of the companies tied to Ed Ahmad, the Guyanese businessman who pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in the United States.

Over the weekend, Ahmad’s brother, Shareef, defended the new use of the plot of land, which once served as the senior staff compound for the Sugar Corporation’s Leonora Estate. The land was sold to Ahmad’s company for $80M or $4.9M per acre.

In announcing the sale, the administration’s investment arm and the sugar corporation said the use of the land was restricted to value-added wood processing operations.

In a press release over the weekend, Shareef Ahmad said that he did not breach the original agreement for use of the land. He claimed that when the Environmental Protection Agency and the local authority conducted their studies, permission was not granted to carry out wood processing operations because of the unnecessary noises and pollution that could result, affecting the nearby residential area and schools.

He said that he then moved to the court and obtained permission to use the land for residential/commercial uses.

Ahmad disputed claims by executives of the Parliamentary opposition that he receive a “Sweet Heart Deal” calling the claim ridiculous but ludicrous. He said that he paid US$25,000 per acre for the Leonora land while much there was much more desirable land at Eccles, East Bank Demerara for US$7, 000. Mr Ahmad did not say why he didn’t take the cheaper land if it was much more desirable.

Further, Ahmad said that the employment opportunities from the current project is ten times the original estimate.

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