Ten Piparo families have been locked in a land rift with a Claxton Bay businessman for more than two years and say there seems to be no end in sight to the tug-of-war that has disrupted their lives.
Businessman Kenrick Nanan moved into the land at Light Foot Trace in Piparo in May 2020 and claimed that he owned at least 106 acres in and around the area through the company Central Stone Limited. Nanan, according to company documents, had started the company in 2017 and was the director together with another relative until January 2021.
For the Scheult family who lives in the area and other families who have had farming land there since the 1940s, they are refuting claims that he completely owns the expansive acreage and in the last few years, this has become a raging dispute.
The Scheults told Guardian Media during an interview more than two weeks ago when we visited the area that they were the rightful owners of at least ten acres of land off Light Foot Trace, Piparo which was handed down from their grandparents in the early 80s to their parents and now them.
Another man who gave his name only as Mr Mohamed and represented at least eight other relatives said they were collectively given 20 acres of land.
“This land was handed down to my father from my great grandparents in the 1940s after they had been given it by the Crown and my deed and cadastral are proof of that,” he said.
Having farmed and lived in this area of Piparo quietly for decades, that has now changed with the land dispute that has uprooted the lives and livelihood of many, as they try to make sense of what has transpired over the last two years.
An illegal barricade that was erected across Light Foot Trace in Piparo. The Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC) Chairman says it must be removed since it is blocking access to land owners and Light Foot Trace is under the remit of the PTRC.
Agreement struck up
Wanessa Scheult, 36, a school teacher by profession said Mr Nanan came to the area in May 2020 and claimed he owned all the encompassing land.
“We really did not take him on at that time,” she said.
Scheult said Nanan asked to access his land by passing through their land but on the premise that if there was any damage, he would fix it.
Waneesa lives in one house along Light Foot Trace, while her mother Geeta and brother Steffan live next door.
The document dated June 22, 2020 said, “This is to certify Geeta Scheult owner of property situated at the above-mentioned address (#08 Light Foot Trace, Piparo) hereby give permission to Mr Kenrick Nanan of Central Stone Ltd located at #31 B Tobago Plantation, Tobago to use my property for access to his land located at parcel #87, on the condition that he will repair and fix any damage done to said property.”
Apart from the signatories of Scheult’s mother and Nanan, the witness was Nanan’s employee Eddie Gajadhar. Wanessa Scheult said over time heavy equipment was brought in by Nanan that not only damaged Light Foot Trace but also their adjoining land.
“In September 2020 we tried to speak to him and it led to a heated argument. He said he not fixing it anymore and he changed his mind and he no longer handling this.”
Signs of the damaged roadways and fresh landslips caused by the heavy equipment were still quite evident when Guardian Media visited more than two and a half weeks ago.
Wanessa said things were relatively quiet and there was no activity until March 2021 when things again started to stir.
“A woman came here and said her name was Miss Anuradha Singh and she represent Hamel Smith and company and who were the previous land owners and they still own property in Piparo and environs and said she represents them and speaks on their behalf and tried to sell me back my land and that is when I realise things were a bit suspicious. I immediately called Hamel Smith and company and they told me there is no one by that name working for them.”
With no resolution in sight- Wanessa wrote via email to the Princes Town Regional Corporation and its Chairman Gowrie Roopnarine in early June and also copied MP for Princes Town Barry Padarath and other councillors hoping someone could throw her family a lifeline.
The email indicated that officers of the Princes Town Regional Police had been allegedly harassing her mother. She also asked in the email if there was any possible collusion between the Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC) and Central Stone Limited. But she got no immediate response.
Nanan’s cadastral map showing plots.
Things get out of hand
In May 2022, Wanessa said things got heated when workers tried to run the equipment through their property.
“We told them you cannot be passing that through here, that is trespassing on public property and again another heated confrontation, they threatened to kill us all because we were obstacles in their way.”
Soon after the incident, Wanessa said an iron barrier was placed across Light Foot Trace just after her home, allegedly by the new developers, making it impossible for several other land owners to get to their land.
“They blocked a road that is the property of the Princes Town Regional Corporation,” she said.
Wanessa’s brother Steffan, 34, who also jointly owns the land with his sister and mother said he had been taken aback after returning home from abroad to see the deplorable condition of Light Foot Trace which was the only thoroughfare to their homes.
He said they were forced to make several reports to the Princes Town Police Station after they got no reprieve from the PTRC.
“We always call rapid response 999 …. We keep receipts of this, my sister and mom and I have receipts. Municipal police acted like bodyguards, they are parking their heavy equipment on my property and showed municipal police on our land and they said they cannot do anything about that. What about the barriers they erected in front the other people’s property? They say they will tell them to remove it, but I said they will never remove it unless you guys instruct them to do so.”
Nanan refuses to answer
Over the last two and half weeks, Guardian Media secured a number for Eddie Gajadhar an employee of Mr Nanan and contacted him in late July and asked that Mr Nanan contacts us to give his side of the story and produce any relevant documents showing ownership of the land in question.
On August 2, we telephoned Gajadhar and during an eight-minute phone conversation impressed upon him the need to speak to Mr Nanan on this matter.
Gadjadhar, who spoke for Nanan it seemed, insisted that Mr Nanan had purchased the land from Hamel Smith and Company. “Those persons there do not know what they talking about or even have any right to the land,” he said to us on the phone.
He later said Mr Nanan has an eye appointment and it will be unlikely he can speak to us that day. He gave the assurance he would again pass on the number for Mr Nanan to call the following day. The call never came.
On Thursday, August 4 another three calls were placed to Gadjadhar but he did not answer. A voice note and written message were sent emphasising the need for Mr Nanan to speak with us. But again nothing.
The Scheults alleged that a man in a video earlier this year had tried to intimidate them by walking towards their cellphone while they filmed and said, “All yuh playing stupid? You all want to frustrate. All yuh setta of uneducated (b****). All yuh go get what coming to all yuh.”
Scheult land grade down