The Volta Region Lands Commission (VRLC) has dismissed allegations by a section of the public that it has sold state lands to private individuals and government officials, saying government lands cannot be sold but given out on lease.
“The Lands Commission leases state lands and such grants are for a specific period and so there is no sale of government land and that can never be the case,” said Mr Jonathan Kwabla, Regional Lands Officer.
He was speaking at a public forum in Ho on Friday to clear the air, following mounting public concerns over the allegations of the sale of state lands in the Kabore area in Ho.
Mr Kwabla explained that individuals and entities could apply for state land and be granted, once the necessary requirements had been satisfied and the processes exhausted.
Even in such cases, he said, the Lands Commission acted with due diligence by, for instance, doing the necessary consultations in the paramount interest of the people.
The Regional Lands Officer stated that the Kabore and Residency lands in Ho were bought and fully paid for and vested in the President of the Republic in 1921 and had since become state land.
According to him, the VRLC embarked on an ‘in-filling exercise’ (efficient land use policy) in 2015 to meet the demand for state plots for residential and office accommodation development in Ho.
Mr Kwabla said that was also to address the incidence of vast parcels of land partly developed with residential bungalows and greater part left, making the public to have the cause to complain that the land was economically wasteful.
Subsequently, he said, the VRLC sought approval from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources after which some allocations were done in the Kabore and Residency areas.
Mr Kwabla, however, said the Regional Minister in 2017 advised against such allocations as they threatened the security of the Residency and other government installations in that zone.
Based on that, he said, a committee was constituted by the Lands Commission to review the ‘in-filling exercise.’
Mr Kwabla said the committee recommended that the Residency area be reserved strictly for state institutions and all other allocations migrated to the Kabore area.
“Those applicants who at the time of the review had accepted the offers paid the relevant fees to the state. Therefore, it binds the Lands Commission in contract,” he explained.
The Regional Lands Officer said after the recommendation, a new scheme of layout was prepared by the officers from the Survey and Mapping Division of the Commission and the regional office of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA).
“The scheme was duly prepared, presented and approved on September 29, 2020 by the Spatial Planning Committee of the Ho Municipal Assembly for implementation,” he said.
Mr Osei Owusu-Peprah, Regional Head of Public and Vested Lands Management Division (PVLMD) of the Lands Commission, said there were no stool lands in the Volta Region and that chiefs were not responsible for the administration of state lands.
The Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Letsa, said although he represented the President of the Republic in the region, he did not have the mandate to allocate state lands.
Present was Mama Dzidoasi I, Queen of Gbi Abansi and Regional Chairman of the Lands Commission.
FROM ALBERTO MARIO NORETTI, HO