Newly appointed Acting Director of Surveys, Alicia Kathleen Naimool-Ramdass may have been surprised with her elevation to the position but the former Land Surveyor III wants to make meaningful change with respect to land issues in the country. However Naimool-Ramdass said she can only make recommendations, it is up to the Government to shift their priorities and see its importance to the people.

Naimool-Ramdass, 52, has replaced Nasser Abdool as Acting Director after her predecessor held the position, also in an acting capacity, for the last eight years. She said she applied for the job but did not think that she’d get it.

“We went for interviews but I didn’t anticipate anyone being appointed out of those interviews because there was an incumbent,” Naimool-Ramdass told Guardian Media.

Guardian Media was not able to reach former Acting Director Nasser Abdool but a well-placed source said it was believed that Abdool did not show enough initiative in retaining the post. Guardian Media understands that there was an expectation that he would have written to the Public Service Commission and requested that he be appointed as permanent Director. We were also told that Abdool did not anticipate that he would have had to be a part of the interview process for the position due to his seniority. He was eventually interviewed for the job but this time Naimool-Ramdass was given the nod. He will now work as a Land Surveyor III, under Naimool-Ramdass.

When asked why Abdool was not retained Naimool-Ramdass said, “I can’t tell you why, I have asked that myself.”

But what she does know is that there are issues regarding land tenureship that need addressing in this country.

“Land issues a priority’’

The land surveying division is responsible for telling the owner or potential owner of the property where exactly it is located and its size. It is a critical step in attaining Town and Country approval. However, Naimool-Ramdass said it is but one piece of the puzzle with each piece acting independently from each other at times which can overburden the process.

“There has been some stumbling and tripping over our feet in managing our land asset and it probably has to do with the way it has been approached in the past and the silo mentality of the various public sector entities that are operating. I would like to make it a priority for that silo mentality to be more cohesive and more holistic in the way that it operates so that it makes sense to the man on the ground that even though decisions are being made that you disagree with, you can see why they are being made.”

Naimool-Ramdass also told Guardian Media that she will use her time as Director to continue to underscore to the Government the importance of managing land issues as a priority. Something she said the Government does not seem too focused on at the moment.

“If you examine vision 2030 and the sustainable development goals, you’ll find that not a lot is said about land tenure or land administration which is curious to me. In the Roadmap to Recovery, where is it? Security of tenure has long been a stumbling block on the island, make it a priority.”

However, Naimool-Ramdass will have to renew her role every six months as she is acting in the position. A stipulation that she has concerns about.

“It does not lend to creating an agency that runs efficiently.”

Guardian Media attempted to get reactions from Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis but calls to her mobile phone went unanswered. Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat would only say that he was advised by the Public Service Commission of the appointment of Naimool-Ramdass to act. He added that the Public Service Commission is an independent entity and he has no contact with it.