A Commentary By Ranger
Highly controversial, lately, hugely unpopular, to the point of notoriety Dr. Denis Sandy, who struggled valiantly against overwhelming corruptive forces to sanitize a country bedeviled with problems of land administration, in particularly the Western Area, is gone.
The Calabash would like, for a start, to give the new substantive Lands Minister, Dr. Turad Senessie an insight gained from first hand observation, into why land administration and management in Sierra Leone and the Western Area, in particular, is problematic by recommending that he immediately put a moratorium on the sale of all unregistered lands in the country forthwith.
The Calabash will give the reason why this recommendation is made.
In Grafton, for example, there is one notorious land grabber who goes by the name of Chief…(name withheld for now). Interestingly, all the land grabbers in the Freetown suburbs tend to crown themselves as self-appointed chiefs to facilitate their nefarious activities.
Let The Calabash explain, Mr. Minister, how these rogue land grabbers operate.
In the case of this particular land grabber, he has sold land on which the IPPS School at the Grafton New Camp stands to a businessman who has succeeded to get the Grafton Police on his side that arrested and detained the IPPS School Proprietor for property inherited from his late Father that is supported by the Cotton Tree Foundation.
Let it also be reported, Mr. Minister ,that the previous Village Headman was actively involved in such unethical activities and even sold part of the land on which Culture Radio’s compound stands; as well as land belonging to the New Camp on which a big factory now stands.
The current headman and associates in the land grabbing and selling cabal are eyeing all the vast unoccupied land that belongs to New Camp facing Orugu that stretches to as far as the boundary with FAWE School.
What is very frustrating about the illicit activities of these land grabbers is that they have the active connivance of so-called village headmen, councilors, in some instances MPs and the Police in the areas that they operate, and of course, without saying so-called lands surveyors and Ministry of Lands officials.
For example, in a recent local news feed, amputees living in the Waterloo axis complained bitterly about been attacked and beaten up severely by thugs hired by a land grabber aided by the Police for land that had been granted them by the Government of Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, The Calabash will, in the public interest, and for the enlightenment of the new Lands Minister, undertake an in-depth investigation into how these land grabbers bastardize land affairs in the country and report directly to him; in a bid to help him get round this vexatious issue that has resulted in several untimely deaths and loss of limbs and injury to many people caught up in the conflagration over ownership right that ensues which sadly the courts thrive on with endless adjournment of such matters when they succeed to reach the courts.
So as a first step toward real meaningful lasting reform of land administration and management in the country, what Dr. Turad Senessie is advised to place great premium on rearranging is the current process of registration in Freetown which is corrupt, ineffective and disorganized, leading to a wide gap in the credibility of the cadastre in the Western Area which is outdated, inaccurate as well as the registry.
Surveying quality is inadequate due to lack of trained surveyors in modern electronic surveying and mapping techniques and a shortage of equipment.
The Registrar General, whose physical presence is limited primarily to urban areas, registers transactions in land with minimal due diligence, further undermining tenure and creating considerable space for land disputes.
This weakness and inefficiency of the country’s Land Administration system has contributed to an environment where collection of taxes remains difficult, land markings distorted, and urban planning and the associated disaster risk management undermined as evidenced by the destruction near Freetown caused by mudslides in September 2017.
(Continued in several follow up editions)
(C) The Calabash Newspaper