By Mohamed Alieu Bah
CULLED FROM THE COCORIOKO FACEBOOK FORUM :
The Minister of Lands Country Planning and the Environment, Madam Diana Konomanyie has said in Freetown that demolition Exercise will soon commence. According to report the minister has issued a strong warning to citizens that are notorious for illegal land grabbing and encroachment especially on state lands.
At a press conference held on Monday 26th September 2016 at the Ministry of Lands’ at Youyi Building in Freetown, the minister noted that, she is happy and pleased with the feedback garner from the general public. According to Madam Minister, she appreciates raining praises on her, for her dynamic effort in dealing with land issues. “Since I took over the helm of affairs, there have been tremendous changes and success stories in the Ministry” she disclosed.
The minister acknowledged team work and collective responsibilities especially from staff of her ministry and members of the public including the media as well as the general populace. “I cannot fight alone, I need collective backing from my staff, the media and all Sierra Leoneans” she noted. The minister categorically stated that, she inherited several challenges from her predecessor.
In order to address the problems of rapacious land grabbing, the minister said she has adopted the open door policy. Through the policy, she noted, members of the general public have easy access to her office to make complain or divulge any unprecedented land matter.
She underscored that, her Ministry did great jobs during the rains but they are still facing lots of challenges which were reported by people in different localities across the country. She said she has been verifying all land documents to ascertain whether they are authentic and that the lands actually belong to those who are the claimants.
She noted that, some of the unwarranted issues confronting her ministry are the duplication and falsification of land documents.
She disclosed that during the course of the forthcoming dry season, lands are going to be allocated to citizens who can afford to build. She also stated that all those who were given letters for land allocation by her predecessors will be given government lands in due course.
She said once the public noted that land allocation is on course, tensions and challenges will germinate, pointing out that this will always result into good, bad and ugly.
She also used this opportunity to issue a strong warning to village and town headmen and women, particularly those in the Western Area to desist from illegal land grabbing or else they will soon face the full penalty of the law. “This country has only two kinds of lands, either private land or state land but there is no community land”. She assured pointing out that they have been reminded on several occasions.
She underscored that, her Ministry will issue a press statement through the Ministry of information and communications that, community completely back off from all land issues. She said her Ministry will soon involve their Lawyers and Surveyors to address the community land issue.
She also sent strong signal to private surveyors who are involved in an undue surveying of lands which are beyond their mandate. She alleged that some private surveyors also falsify land documents, adding that some of them are in the habit of cutting and pasting signatures of former directors of the Ministry.
She reiterated that these unscrupulous surveyors have the propensity of surveying government lands, prepare a plan, forges the signature of directors and claims it to be original. She also noted that, there are still directors in the Ministry of Lands who signs and back dates land documents just for their selfish gains and to bring disrepute to the ministry. She issued warning to these directors that, they will soon face the full force of the law.
She highlighted an instance where lands that were supposed to be used as cemetery, the construction of hospital, market and school were sold to private people who mounted houses on these lands leaving the community with no lands for the construction of these basic amenities.
She said all the private houses on those sites will be demolished and the lands given back to the community for the construction of these much need basic needs. She said that, these lands were sold to the private people by the chiefs and headmen.
She advised that, who so ever is caught with fake land documents will immediately be taken to the police station to help with investigations and will definitely be brought to book.
“The demolition exercise will start soon, it halted due to the rains, but will commence as soon as possible” she revealed, pointing out that “we will demolish all the houses that are constructed where they are not supposed to be”. She vehemently stated that, all the illegal structures will be put down and they have issued letters of warning for people who have encroached on government