Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, the Minster of Lands and Natural Resources, on Tuesday said the quest to beautify Accra to befit the status of the National Capital could not be realised without efficient and judicious land use.
He said issues of land evoked a lot of emotions as it was the most significant factor of production and crucial to socio economic development.
Speaking at the inauguration of the reconstituted Greater Accra Regional Lands Commission, Mr Jinapor said the administration of lands in Greater Accra, in particular, had been bedevilled with serious challenges, among them being issues of access, multiple sale and registration of land, fraudulent sale by people without capacity and the issue of land guards.
He said it was important for the Commission to work together with the national office to find solutions to those problems.
“The Lands Commission was created by the Constitution as an independent constitutional organ not only to manage public lands but to formulate a national policy for land use and advice government, local and traditional authorities on the policy framework for the development of particular areas,” he said.
Mr Jinapor said one of the important functions, which was often neglected, was under Article 2673 of the Constitution.
This says that there could not be a disposition or development of a stool land without the approval of the regional lands commission, certifying that the disposition of development is consistent with the development plan of the area.
He urged members of the Commission to jealously guard their new role and exercise their power in good faith to ensure coordinated development of the national capital.
“You must note that failure to perform this duty diligently will lead to haphazard and uncoordinated alienation and development of land without regard to the overall national development plan,” he said.
Mr Jinapor admonished them to always make it a point to comply with the time line prescribed by law to prevent people from taking undue advantage of the inefficiencies of the system.
“Exhibit honesty as you discharge your duties, Ghanaians and foreigners are not satisfied with the land administration in general, especially in Accra, even though there are decent, honest and hardworking officials in the Greater Accra Region.
He warned the unscrupulous officials in the system who hid files, engaged in double registration of land and perpetrated outright fraud to desist from such acts.
Mr Henry Quartey, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, said members of the Commission were aware of the enormous responsibility and the sacrifice they would have to make to ensure they supported government in dealing with the many challenges relating to land acquisition in the Greater Accra Region.
He said in an effort to deepen decentralisation, the 1992 Constitution of Ghana had provided for the establishment of Commissions with representation from all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, House of Chiefs, Fishermen and Farmers and other important professional bodies and agencies whose activities have a bearing on land and its management.
“Some of the challenges that has bedevilled our land market in the Greater Accra Region include massive encroachment on public lands and eco reservations, the growing incidence and activities of land guards, thus your responsibilities were quite onerous, and you must hit the ground running,” he said.
Mr Quartey said almost all the rural and peri-urban lands were being taken for development, and the trend was very phenomenal with very serious socio-economic implications.
He said the way and manner land was managed in the Region leaved much to be desired, and entreated the Commission to bring to bear their diverse expertise in the management of lands in the region.
Madam Yvonne Odoley Sowah, the Chairperson of the Commission, said they were fully aware of the task ahead and determined to chart a new path for efficient service delivery that resolved in a more positive image for the Commission.
She pledge that at the end of their four-year term they would be judged with delivery of service within 14 days as stated in the Land Act 2020, reduction of turnaround time for registration to a maximum of 30 days as directed by government, and integration of development plans for land use into the registration process as required by law.
“We would also promote decentralization of the services of the Lands Commission in the region to ensure access to all…and those who engage in acts in contravention of the Law will be punished to serve as a deterrent to others,” she said.