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17.11.2005 General News

State vested lands to be divested when not needed

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Koforidua, Nov. 17, GNA - The Eastern Regional Lands Officer, Mr George Asafo-Mireku, has emphasized that state-acquired lands would not be divested unless the reasons for their acquisition were no longer tenable.

He, therefore, advised citizens of towns such as Koforidua and Nkawkaw to stop harassing developers with lawful allocation of plots by the Lands Commission and rather register any of their lawfully acquired plots.

Mr Asafo-Mireku, who was answering questions at a public awareness forum on the operations of the Deed Registration System and the Land Administration Project (LAP) at Koforidua on Thursday, however, assured farmers of such lands that compensation would be paid to anybody whose cash or food crops were destroyed by a developer or concessionaire. He told landowners and developers in the Eastern Region that they did not need to go to Accra to register documents on their lands, since a Deeds Registry had now been opened in Koforidua, since July, this year, stressing also that they did not need an agent to do so on their behalf.

On allegations that some staff of the Lands Commission was demanding bribes from developers, he asked developers to demand receipts for any payments made and urged them to expose any staff, who indulged in corrupt practices to the authorities. Mr Joseph Owusu-Sarfo of the LAP Secretariat, who spoke on the Deed Registration System, mentioned the principles of deed registration as security against loss or destruction of property, evidence in support of claims to property interest, as a collateral for loans and serving as public notice of property transaction. He said in view of the socio-economic benefit of the LAP, Land Deeds Registries were currently going to be opened at the regional capitals, saying, the project would be extended to the district level after pilot projects had been analysed.

Mr Owusu-Sarfo cautioned aspiring developers not to pay any money to a landowner until they had conducted a search at the Lands Commission to satisfy themselves about the genuineness of the offer.

He urged chiefs, families and individuals to register their lands to avoid litigation, adding that, registration would also support the government's efforts at attracting investors into the country. The chairman for the function, Mr Samuel Asante-Ansong, Eastern Regional Chairman of the Ghana Bar Association, reminded New Juaben citizens, who were dissatisfied about the law on the state acquisition of the land to lobby their Members of Parliament to seek its amendment by Parliament.

Participants of the forum, who included chiefs, landowners and developers, expressed concern about issues including the cost and delay in the processing of land deeds and compensation for destroyed crops by developers.

Regional heads of land sector agencies including the Department of Town and Country Planning, Survey Department, Lands Valuation Board, the Office of Administration of Stool Lands and the Internal Revenue Service, who addressed the forum also helped to clarify issues.