Under Article 258 and 260 of the 1992 constitution, which mandates the creation of the lands commission and its regional offices across the country, a 15-member Land Commission team has been inaugurated for the Oti Region on Thursday to take charge of land administration.
The Region, before its creation and subsequently inaugurated in 2019, was operating from the Volta Region by some government agencies.
The Lands Commission is one of the latest state agencies to have been duly inaugurated after the inauguration of the Regional House of Chiefs by the Vice President in 2020.
The Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Benito Owusu-Bio speaking at the inaugural ceremony charged the board to ensure proper planning and use of land and spaces in the region for effective development under the existing laws.
He bemoaned that the land administration had been saddled with several challenges.
“Land is vital to the development of the country. Every development and infrastructure is situated on the land. However, there are various issues affecting our land administration systems.”
Mr Owusu-Bio also mentioned that double sales of land, wrong demarcation and surveying of land by quark surveyors, preparation of layouts with base maps, inaccurate recording of land transactions among others as some challenges facing the land administration system.
According to him, such an act is “now a criminal offence” adding that the passing of the Land Act, Act 1036 in 202 would help improve land administration in the country and would help resolve existing land-use related challenges.
“The government passed the Land Act 2020, Act 1036 to improve land service delivery in the country. It is believed that the Land Act 2020, Act 1036 would definitely help to minimise the above-mentioned issues if not even eradicate them.”
The minister also reiterated the government’s resolve to bring governance closer to the people hence the inauguration of the commission to enable the region to fully depend on its institutions, not institutions of other regions still superintending over the new region and, also make land administration easier to the residents of the region.
“Land related issues have now been brought closer to the people of Oti Region to make land transactions and registration more accessible. It is my hope that the establishment of this regional commission would be evident to all and sundry after members have served their four-year term. This can be achieved when we assist members of the commission to achieve their vision,” he said
The Minister feared that the passing of the Land Act would put most members of the land-holding class behind bars if the members of the commission do not embark upon massive education as some land-related activities under the new law have been criminalised.
He, therefore, indicated that “there would be public engagements on this Act for stakeholders and the public to appreciate it the more.”
Falsification of land documents, double sales of the same parcel of land, and land guard related activities have now been criminalised under the new law.
“It is now a criminal offence to knowingly, to sell one parcel of land to two persons, the same transaction to two persons. This issue of land guards has also been criminalised. Not only the land guard but also the one who hired the services of the land guards.”
The Oti Regional Coordinating Director, Andrews Okuma Nawil said the inauguration would bring longstanding land-related issues and usage in the region to a close.
According to him, the regional coordinating council has been enabled to take key decisions, especially concerning the regional capital, Dambai, where planning and siting of structures leave much to be desired.
The regional capital has homes and offices sited in earmarked areas for road construction and other national structures.
The Chairman for the regional Lands Commission, Nana Obombo Sewura Yupuwura II said the administration of land in the region for the next four years is going to be a shared responsibility as the commission would liaise with the various district assemblies and traditional authorities in the region to ensure efficient use of land for development.
The inauguration of a fifteen-member Lands Commission on Thursday, July 15, 2021, brings to an end the superintendence of the Volta regional Lands Commission over the Oti region and thus mandated to act as follows according to Article 258 of the 1992 constitution;
(1) There shall be established a Lands Commission which shall, in coordination with the relevant public agencies and governmental bodies, perform the following functions –
(a) on behalf of the Government, manage public lands and any lands vested in the President by this Constitution or by any other law or any lands vested in the Commission;
(b) advise the Government, local authorities and traditional authorities on the policy framework for the development of particular areas of Ghana to ensure that the development of individual pieces of land is co-ordinated with the relevant development plan for the area concerned;
(c) formulate and submit to government recommendations on national policy with respect to land use and capability;
(d) advise on, and assist in the execution of, a comprehensive programme for the registration of title to land throughout Ghana;
(e) perform such other functions as the Minister responsible for lands and natural resources may assign to the Commission.