There must be sanity in the public land sector

Land is a very important commodity in life because of its various uses and so individuals, organisations, communities and the state all strive to acquire land.

Land is fixed in quantity, which means that once a certain piece of land is put to use, its size is deemed to be literally subtracted from the total landmass of an area.

Probably, it is due to its use that though land is a free gift of nature, it has come to be owned by humans and entities.

The 1960 State Property and Contracts Act was the first enactment that placed all state property in the hands of the President and granted the President the sole power to compulsorily acquire Ghanaian lands.

The 1992 Constitution and the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), which consolidates the existing laws on land and land administration into a single law, have come to reinforce that power on state property.

State property comes in the forms of national conservation areas, national parks, wilderness, historic sites, wildlife refuge, national monuments and forest reserves.

Under the law, the Lands Commission is a very significant organisation because it is supposed to co-ordinate with the relevant public agencies and governmental bodies to manage public lands and any other lands vested in the President by the Constitution or by any other enactment or the lands vested in the Commission.

It is also to, among other functions, advise the government, local authorities and traditional authorities on the policy framework for the development of particular areas to ensure that the development of individual pieces of land is co-ordinated with the relevant development plan for the area concerned.

No doubt, some public officials who handle land matters in the country such as those of the Lands Commission stray into activities that causes the public to wonder if the right thing is being done.

Sometimes, the public hear of a state property put on sale in circumstances that smack of underhand dealings.

If really it takes only the President to consent to the sale of public property, can people, especially politicians and other public officials who have acquired public lands, testify that they got such consent?

The Ghanaian Times would like to believe that something has gone wrong for which President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged government institutions to stop the sale of public lands with immediate effect, stressing that no public institution should deal in, grant, or allocate any land without the express approval of the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources acting with his consent.

“The days when public lands were literally dissipated without regard to the public interest are over,” President Akufo-Addo said when he inaugurated the Board of the Lands Commission at the Jubilee House in Accra on Wednesday.

It is instructive to note another assertion by President Akufo-Addo that even public lands allocated to government institutions remain public lands, vested in the President and managed by the Lands Commission and that Land Act 2020 prohibits the grant of any interest in public land, other than use rights, to any public institution.

It is the hope of this paper that in the misdeeds or corruption in the public land sector would be rigorously checked, so that even if it is possible, the law would be used by the state to repossess state lands acquired through underhand dealing.

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