Land is a critical factor of production. Its availability or otherwise has led to the drawing of battle lines among neighbours, communities and nations.

The scramble for land in our cities and other urban settlements is no longer for agricultural purposes. Every worker wants a roof over his or her head and those of the family in order to avoid the ?wickedness? of Shylock landlords.

Today, it costs a fortune to rent any decent accommodation in Accra, especially, other cities and, to some extent, urban settings.

Despite the unambiguous legislation against the payment of rent advance beyond six months, landlords flagrantly ignore this directive and demand rent advance in excess of one year. Some even demand rent advance in foreign currency just to avoid losing out on the market because of the weak nature of the cedi.

The rush for land and the desire to protect that piece of property have led to the emergence of the phenomenon called land guards who use their might to deprive people of their hard-won property.

Land guards have killed innocent people just to satisfy their paymasters who hire them, in most cases to protect property that they did not legitimately acquire.

Consequently, land acquisition in Accra has been rocked by scandals, as every day there are fights over the ownership of one parcel of land or another.

Sometimes this is done with the connivance of officials of the Lands Commission.

Law-abiding citizens seek redress at the courts to protect their lands but lawless ones just fall on land guards or macho men to forcibly take lands that do not belong to them.

Very expensive houses have been pulled down by people who think they have title to the pieces of land on which those buildings are constructed and those who can mobilise land guards intimidate those on the lands and manage with their might to drive out the so-called owners.

The real landowners who have the means also hire land guards to protect their property.

These developments draw attention to the need for a review of the land tenure system, so that those who desire to acquire land for whatever purpose will not be inhibited in their efforts.

As it stands, there are too many landmines along the paths leading to the acquisition of land in Accra, particularly, to such an extent that some people have vowed never to buy land in the Greater Accra Region.

The growing phenomenon of land guards, if not tamed very soon, can also pose a threat to national security.

There are reports that these land guards even wield very sophisticated weapons that they use to intimidate landowners.

There are occasions when patriotic people have questioned the loud silence of the security apparatus over the growing lawlessness in the acquisition and development of land in the country.

Concerns have also been raised over the uncontrolled sale of land for estate development, to the detriment of agricultural development.

Ghana is an agricultural country and that is why every policy must be geared towards protecting the heritage for agricultural productivity.

The Daily Graphic thinks that the time has come for a regulatory framework to regulate land sale and use in the country.

The practice where all land guards, chiefs, families and stools are given the free hand to sell land, sometimes to as many as 10 people, can no longer be tolerated.

Our hearts bleed for the residents of Adjei Kojo near Ashaiman whose houses were reduced to rubble last Wednesday by a task force from the Tema Development Corporation (TDC).

But to avert another such occurrence, the authorities should impress on landowners to respect the regulations on the sale of land to any interested party. And those who acquire lands for any purposes must do the necessary due diligence to ensure that there are no multiple claims to the title of land.

Daily Graphic Friday, 24 January 2014

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