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Sun, Oct

We need land reforms now!

Land as a factor of production has become a major source of conflict in the country. Family members have been at one another’s throat over land; clans have disagreements, communities are involved in communal violence over land, while developers are fighting landowners over the multiple sale of land.

That is not all; countries have gone to war over boundary disputes. Currently, Ghana and Cote d’lvoire are at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in a case relating to oil deposits. Not to long ago, Nigeria and Cameroun had to battle it out at the international tribunal over the Bakasi Peninsula.

What this tells us is that no economic activity can take place without land and, therefore, land will continue to be a source of conflict.

Back home, the fight over land has been bloody, claiming lives and disrupting economic activities in areas where it has occurred.

The rapid economic development of the country from the 1990s has pushed the price of land beyond the reach of many people.

Also, the growing demand for accommodation and the demand for rent advance by landlords and landladies are pushing every Tom, Dick and Harry to look for land to put a roof over his or her head and that of his or her family.

Elsewhere in the advanced economies, people worry little about where to lay their heads, as mortgages take care of those needs.

For this reason lands are not encumbered, as is the case here in Ghana, especially where the security agencies are unable to protect private property except for those who can privately pay for those services.

Now the scramble for land, akin to what happened during the scramble for Africa, has resulted in the use of illegal security agencies to protect lands by chiefs, developers and individuals.

Simply put, the land tenure system is counter-productive, as it has stood in the way of local and foreign investments.

Successive governments have tried several reforms in the land sector, with support from the donor community such as the World Bank.

The bureaucracy associated with land acquisition and registration encourages the abuse in the system.

The process to register land at the Lands Commission is long, frustrating, time consuming, with a huge financial burden on those seeking the service, leading to pervasive corruption in the sector.

To add to the burden is the long delay in the acquisition of building permits from the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

Inaugurating the Greater Accra Regional Lands Commission in Accra, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, charged the members to ensure that landowners were able to register their lands within 30 days.

He was also spot on when he said the land holding and management regime was fraught with uncertainties arising from disputes, claims and counter-claims.

The Daily Graphic is worried that as a result of the bottlenecks in the system, unscrupulous people are cutting corners to promote land litigation throughout the country.
We think that the lack of a co-ordinated land development plan has resulted in the encroachment on public lands and Green Belts.

Today, our cities and urban centres are suffering from ‘brick and mortar’ business in an un-coordinated manner as if we have no place for spatial planning any longer.

The Daily Graphic thinks that all stakeholders must join hands to end the confusion in land sale and development to avoid breeding a monster spearheaded by land guards whose actions can reverse the peace, stability and development of the country.

This situation may look far but is real.