President Nana Akufo-Addo has charged the newly constituted Board of the National Lands Commission to clear the mess at the Commission, and ensure that the process of acquisition and use of land is not cumbersome, and is governed by law.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “on a daily basis, and I know I am not alone in making this observation, we hear of countless lamentations from many Ghanaians, who face great difficulty in trying to access services at the Lands Commission.”
The processes of procuring land, and registering land titles, the President said, are fraught with so much bureaucracy and so much corruption.
He noted that, for example, to conduct a simple search of the details of a parcel of land, before making final payment to the owners, is a process that takes weeks, and, if you are not lucky, months.
“Even at that, one would have to part with some amount of money before the search is conducted at the Lands Commission. After receiving the details of the search, and satisfying oneself about the genuineness or otherwise of the land, then comes another nightmare – registration of the land title,” the President said.
He continued, “We have heard on several occasions about mysterious disappearances of indentures and other land title documents from the Lands Commission, only for them to be replaced with documents belonging to others. If you are lucky enough to have your documents remaining intact at the Commission, registering a piece of land can take years.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Thursday, August 24, 2017, when the inaugurated the new Board of the National Lands Commission.
“Indeed, it appears that, for the right amount of money, any transaction, legal or illegal, can be procured at the Lands Commission. It is deeply regrettable that the very problems that led to the establishment of the Lands Commission and the implementation of a land administration reform programme, through the Land Administration Projects, still persist,” he said.
This, he stressed, is not right, and this has to end.
The President told the Board that the Ghanaian people were dissatisfied with the direction in which this country was headed, and, thus, voted to change course and give them a Ghana where systems work, and where shady acts, such as those taking place at the Lands Commission, are curtailed.
Streamline administration of lands
President Akufo-Addo charged the Board to implement the policies contained in the NPP’s 2016 Manifesto, aimed at streamlining the administration of lands in our country.
Amongst others, the President charged the board to speed up land services and enhance the accuracy of land certificates and records by investing in turning the Lands Commission into a true digital organization, to reduce the need for clerical or administrative paper shuffling and to free professional staff to focus on technical, policy and strategic land administration issues, where required.
He also charged the Board to also ensure that turnaround time for land registration is reduced to 30 working days, and fully decentralize the Lands Commission and land services to the district level, so as to help reduce the cost of land services, by making such services accessible electronically and at the district levels.
President Akufo-Addo also the Commission to release publicly held lands for productive uses, explaining that freeing up the surplus and underutilized lands, held by public departments for housing and commercial developments, will boost economic development and reduce the housing deficit.
“This is a heavy charge I give to you, members of the newly constituted Board of the National Lands Commission, and it is my hope and expectation that you will ensure the full and speedy implementation of these initiatives.
Your selection, as members of the Lands Commission, was made to bring your rich experience and expertise to good and beneficial use for the effective administration of lands, and, ultimately, to the benefit of the Ghanaian people,” he stressed.
Describing the task ahead as a daunting one, President Akufo-Addo assured the board that “you have my full support to undertake all the measures and reforms required to enable you to succeed. I will ensure that the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources and the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation work closely with you so that we all remain on the right track.”
An efficient system of lands administration, he added, “is critical to our rapid social and economic development, for it is an important ingredient in a successful program of industrial and agricultural transformation on which we are embarked.”