Lands Ministry reclaims state lands in the interest of all


September 27, 2018

By Alusine Sesay

Dr. Denis Sandy remains focused on reclaiming state land

Having embarked on the reformation and sanitisation of the Ministry of Lands, specifically focusing on reclaiming state lands, the Minister of Lands and Country Planning has told journalists that the rationale behind the exercise was to ensure that each and every Sierra Leonean have access to land  irrespective of financial or other status.

Dr. Denis Sandy was yesterday speaking at the Ministry of Information and Communications conference hall where he dilated on the activities of the ministry and many other thorny issues since he took over office.

He said the ministry has made significant gains in reclaiming state lands and that they were determined to moving ahead with the process.

Dr. Sandy informed the press that in the process of reclaiming state lands, they collaborated with all stakeholders, including headmen, headwomen and lawyers who supported the ministry in the process.

He underscored the significance of land reclamation, stating that the ministry has been receiving applications from investors with vested interest in estate and other development, and that “If we don’t manage our land efficiently and effectively, we would lose out in terms of development.”

He maintained that the rationale behind land reclamation was to ensure that Sierra Leoneans of all walks of life own land and be saved from the brutal hands of private land dealers whose primary aim is to make money at the expense of the poor masses.

The controversial lands minister further informed the press that in the process of reclaiming state lands, they went to the provinces, especially in the south-east, where they engaged land owning families to avoid the situation of the past wherein the latter reclaimed state lands, including airfields and reservation areas they had given to government on lease.

He disclosed that they have sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance to facilitate payment of rent to land owning families, adding that after the payment, airfield and government reservation lands would be retrieved.

“We have made significant progress in allaying the fears of land owning families that indeed this government is a caring government,” he said.

Dr. Sandy also dilated on a previous press release issued by the ministry which indicated that government would not accept land documents that were signed by previous officials of the ministry, adding that the release was dubbed the end of land grabbing not only in Freetown but across the entire country.

“I am glad to be part of this history making process,” he said.

He emphasised that some officials of ministry had been engaged in dubious games by backdating land documents to make it appear authentic, thus creating conflict between and among people.

The minister informed the media about the creation of a Verification and Complaint Unit within the ministry which deals with the registration of land ownership in a transparent manner.

He said that in the past people used to go to the bank and pay directly for free hold offer, stating that such situation has completely been changed.

“Now, a slip signed by the Permanent Secretary, head of the Verification Unit and the Director of Surveys and Lands is given to you if conditions in the offer letter are met. You then go the bank and make your payment and the slip is also stamped by the bank and taken to the ministry,” he said.

He boasted that with the introduction of the mode of payment, they have generated huge revenue for the government as compared to the previous administration.

He told the media about a certain free hold meetings held every Wednesday at the ministry, which he said, has been transparent and that most applicants’ conveyances have been processed.