The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) is advocating an amendment to the country’s land use laws to make the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA) solely responsible for authorising land use.
The current situation where Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) were empowered to grant permit for land use, according to the Minister of MESTI, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, was inhibiting the enforcement role of LUSPA.
As an Authority established by law, he explained that, LUSPA should have the power to exact sanctions in matters of encroachment and other illegal use of land, a provision which was currently absent.
“The law as it is now gives the MMDAs some enforcement powers. I think LUSPA as an Authority should have the power to crack the whip, if necessary and do other things.
But due to the shared mandate with the local government, there has been a two-layered process in the enforcement regime. That’s why I think we should look at the law,” he stated.
The Minister was speaking during a meeting with management and staff of LUSPA in Accra yesterday.
The meeting was to enable Dr Afriyie to familiarise himself with the workings of LUSPA, which, until 2016 was known as Town and Country Planning Department.
He said an amendment would further empower the Authority to work in protection and preservation of protected sites across the country.
Justifying why the LUSPA should be made solely responsible for authorising land use, the Minister said the MMDAs were already preoccupied with other sectoral issues including education, health and sanitation, among others.
He charged LUSPA to undertake a change in organisational culture to make them more visible as a public service agency.
The Ministry, he noted, was ready to assist the Authority in delivering upon its mandate adding that “my office is open to discussions about welfare and legal framework that would ensure your effectiveness.”
Acting Head of LUSPA, Kwadwo Yeboah, noted that, due to majority of MMDAs not adhering to land use and spatial planning functions as required by law, there had been various complaints against spatial planning practices in the country.
He said the Authority was in the process of initiating an attitudinal change programme for staff to make staff proactive and change the declining image of the profession.
This year, he noted that the LUSPA would fully implement migration report and revise spatial planning manuals, planning standards and zoning regulations.
He said the Authority would also establish a repository of national, regional and district spatial data bases and issue regulatory notices.
Currently, Mr Yeboah said the Authority’s operations were being impeded by low budgetary allocations and it was negatively affecting efforts aimed at transforming spatial planning practice.
He added that ineffectiveness of the MMDAs to undertake development control functions and inadequate logistics including vehicles, spatial data and office accommodation were also hampering the execution of LUSPA’s mandate.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS