The one-stop-shop of the new Lands Commission

Room2Rapidly changing customer needs and technology can demand a rethinking of an organisation’s work design. For instance, when an organisation adopts new technology, its existing process may no longer be the most effective or efficient.

The Lands Commission in the bid to remain customer oriented, competitive, enhance its image and reposition itself as the most desired organization for the delivery of quality land services, has therefore, undertaken a reengineering of its business processes.

The Commission has undertaken a complete review of its critical work processes and redesigned its processes to make them more efficient and able to deliver higher quality services. The carefully thought through reengineering by the Lands Commission encompassed a review of the processes performed by all the Divisions of the Commission with the expected consequence of a fundamental change in the way it operates, resulting in higher quality and greater efficiency. These expected changes will be extensive including the Commission’s culture, individual attitudes and work practices.

The Lands Commission was established under Article 258 of the 1992 Constitution and the Lands Commission Act 767 of 2008 as a corporate body.

The current Lands Commission, as part of the public sector reform programmes and the Ghana Land Administration Project (LAP) has substantially been remodeled by the Act 767 to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

As part of the reforms, four Land Sector Agencies; the ‘Old Lands Commission,’ Land Valuation Board, Land Title Registry and the Survey Department have been integrated into one Corporate Agency- the ‘New Lands Commission’ which now comprises of four distinct Divisions. The Divisions are; Public and Vested Land Management Division (PVLMD), Land Valuation Division (LVD), Survey and Mapping Division (SMD), and the Land Registration Division (LRD).

The new structure has created a Corporate Head Office headed by an Executive Secretary as the Chief Executive Officer, with two Deputy Executive Secretaries and four Divisional Directors.

To improve land service delivery and management, the Commission with support from the Land Administration Project has developed a strategy to re-engineer the Commissions’ Business Processes and Workflow integration as part of the restructuring of the land sector to reduce process time, improve productivity and efficiency as well as to reduce the cost of land transactions.

 

Objectives of the Re-Engineering

The overall objectives of the re-engineering are to;

l       Improve the process of land registration

l       Reduce the turn-around time in registration

l       Reduce client interference in registration process

l       Automate the process

l       Integrate re-engineered business processes

l       Reducing customer frustrations

l       Simplify payment of fees

l       Eliminate/reduce duplication of work

l       Apply technology in business processes

l       Improve working environment

Causes of Delays in Land Registration Process in Ghana

The causes of delays and frustrations in the Land Registration system in the country can be categorized into three (3) broad areas;

  1. Institutional
  2. Business Process
  3. Technological Challenges

 

Institutional Delays

Institutional challenges have been a major setback in rendering quality land services to clients and the general public. Multiple access or channels of clients to services for instance makes it difficult for management to track transactions, it’s speed, the quality and fluidity of those services rendered.

The office layout/architecture is also a challenge. The scattered nature of the Commissions’ offices and operations inhibit the free flow of services and slows the pace of service delivery. For instance, the Land Registration Division, Survey and Mapping Division and the Land Valuation Division of the Commission are not co-located and make the workflow very slow and challenging. Staff supervision under such work environment is very challenging as well.

Another institutional challenge that causes the delays in the land registration process is inadequate public education on the requirements for land registration by the Lands Commission.

Duplication of effort or work has also been identified as a major cause of delays in the land registration process. There are instances where site inspections will have to be carried out by LRD and SMD in the process of registration, but instead of the inspection being done on a single visit by the Divisions; the site inspection is done separately and at different times and visits by the Divisions.

Institutional delays like; double preparations of site plans, delays in the issuance of tax clearance certificate, consent, official requests for search reports from LRD to PVLMD, declaration of multiple requests by SMD, and lack of information on status of applications by clients.

The manual system of operations in areas like records management and generations is an inhibition to quickening the pace of service delivery at the Commission. There is a gradual application of ICT through the automation of some of the Commission’s operations, even though they are inadequate and its pace needs to be accelerated.

Specific Interventions to Deal with the Delays

The Lands Commission has decided to make the following external dependency requirements; like request for planning comments from TCPD, tax clearance certificate from Ghana Revenue Authority and consent from Traditional Authorities as precondition for submission of documents for registration. The effect of this intervention is that the time for obtaining planning comments and tax clearance certificates will no longer be considered within the registration period at the Lands Commission.

The multiple preparations of sites plans have also been done away with, since Site Plan preparations have been captured and made a pre-registration requirement. Site plans under the new system would be prepared once; under quality control checks and used throughout the registration process.

The effect of this intervention on the process of land registration is that, the Land Registration Division of the Commission will no longer be required to write a letter to the Survey and Mapping Division to prepare Title plans which normally takes some three (3) months to be done.

On the issues of inadequate information on land registration requirements and fees structure, the Lands Commission has established a Communication and Public Outreach Unit to sensitise clients and the general public on the land registration requirements, fees and processes on the electronic and print media and through public outreaches.

The effect of this intervention will also reduce extortions from clients; ensure improved document preparation by clients before submission for processing at the Commission and thereby reducing the number of queried documents mid-way in the registration process.

Another intervention aimed at reducing the delays in the land registration process is the elimination of request for official searches mid-way in the registration process by the Land Registration Division. All searches or records of information on the land from all Divisions would be carried out at the early stages to ensure that the land or property meets the requirements for registration.

Thus, the Land Registration Division will no longer be required to write to the Public and Vested Land Management Division to request for official search report during the process of registration, taking off two weeks of delay in the previous system.

The Lands Commission has also proposed the merger of the Cartographic and Records Units of the Land Registration and Survey and Mapping Divisions to eliminate the declaration of multiple requests during the plan preparation and approval process. This also offsets three months of delay in the process of registration.

Under the new system, the Commission has initiated the process to establish a document tracking system to automatically inform and update clients on the status of their applications through text messages, thereby reducing the direct contact of the Commission staff with clients and the interference of clients in the registration process.

The four Divisions of the Commission; LRD, SMD, LVD and PVLMD are to be co-located at the Cantonments office to improve communication, supervision and workflow in terms of access to Divisional records.

The Commission has set up Wide and Local Area Network systems and employed the appropriate softwares to improve efficiency and information sharing in the areas of parcel or cadastral plan generation and document tracking.

 

Benefits of the Reengineering

The re-engineering process of the Lands Commission at the institutional level gave birth to the Clients Service and Access Unit (CSAU), establishment of units and structures within the Commission to supervise and monitor performance and co-location of all the Divisions of the Commission.

The re-engineering process at the Business Process level gave birth to Plan preparation and approval being made a pre-registration requirement.

Accessing Lands Commission Services under the Current System

u        CURRENT:

Payments and Site Inspections, Site Plan, Stamping, Concurrence, Lodgment, Title Plan, Searches, Publication & Certification

 

Accessing Lands Commission Services under the Proposed New Client Service and Access Units (CSAUs)

 

Plan Approval, Stamping, Registration, Searches & Enquiries, Customer Service Access Units (CSAUs)

 

The Client Service and Access Units (CSAUs)

The Lands Commission as part of its New Integrated Business Processes and reforms to provide quality and customer focused services to its Clients and the General Public has introduced the Client Service and Access Unit (One-Stop-Shops) in the following Regional Offices:

  1. Accra (Old Stamping Office, Land Valuation Division)
  2. Sekondi-Takoradi
  3. Tamale
  4. Bolgatanga
  5. Koforidua
  6. Winneba
  7. Savelugu

 

Clients Service and Access Units (CSAUs) at Tamale and Bolgatanga

The CSAUs would be the only Access Point for lands services of the Lands Commission when they are fully operational in March, 2015.

The CSAUs which is to serve as the ONLY ACCESS POINT for Lands Commission services would provide the following services:

  • Payment of Fees and Charges for all land services
  • Site Plan preparation requests
  • Stamping of documents(Stamp Duty)
  • Concurrence
  • Lodgment of all land documents
  • Title plans requests
  • Searches
  • Publications and certification

The Customer Service and Access Units (CSAUs) is expected to reduce the bottlenecks, cost and time in the service delivery process as well as enhance transparency in the Commissions’ service delivery encounters.

Clients would therefore complete and submit all the necessary documents, make all payments of required fees and drop off the documents at the CSAUs.

Clients are expected to collect their registered Deeds or Title and other documents at an appointed time at the same Client Service and Access Units (CSAUs)

The Client Service Access Unit would be manned by knowledgeable subject matter Front Desk Executives from all the four Divisions of the Lands Commission and serve as the first port of contact for clients and the general public with the Regional Lands Officer having a supervisory mandate over the activities of the CSAUs and its staff.

Documents would be vetted against a standard checklist to ensure that all applications for Land Services have met all the requirements before the documents are admitted into the CSAUs database system and a date issued to clients to return for collection of documents.

Under the new system, clients and the general public are to deal solely with the CLIENTS SERVICE AND ACCESS UNITS for all their land and land related services.

The Overall Effects of the New Integrated Business Processes on Service Delivery

The ultimate effects of all these interventions are to reduce the bottlenecks associated with the land registration process, thereby reducing the costs and turnaround time in the land service delivery for an efficient, transparent and accountable land administration system in line with the Project Development Objective LAP-2.

By: Ben Arthur (The Project Implementation Team Leader, Lands Commission) and Abdulai Abdul-Rahaman (The National Communications and Public Outreach Officer, Lands Commission).

By Ben Arthur & Abdulai Abdul-Rahaman

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