Customary Land Secretariats inaugurated in Brong Ahafo
Sunyani (BA), Sept. 10, GNA - Three new Customary Land Secretariats that would see to the capturing of requisite data on sales transactions, user, and parties involvement in land use to prevent the multiple land transactions and unlawful repossession in customary land usage, has been inaugurated for three towns in Brong-Ahafo. The towns, Techiman, Drobo and Nkoranza, which would benefit from the establishment of the secretariats, were represented by their chiefs at the inauguration ceremony.
The chiefs later signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the establishment of the secretariats in their respective localities. Mr Sandy Mensah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Land Administration Project Coordinator, said about 80 per cent of all lands in the country were in the hands of traditional rulers, adding, under component two of the project, customary land administration was meant to be strengthened through the establishment of customary land secretariats. Mr Sandy Mensah further added that, the 1992 Constitution Article 267(1), recognised this fact and states that "all stool lands in Ghana shall vest in the appropriate stool on behalf of and trust for the subjects of the stool in accordance with customary law and usage". He said in the disbursement of stool revenue, 55 per cent was to be allocated to the district/municipal assemblies, while nananom were to receive 45 per cent on behalf of their stools, "however evidence on the ground shows that, neither the district assemblies nor majority of nananom are applying these revenues for projects that would benefit their communities, to extent that some nananom treat these revenues as personal incomes".
The Regional LAP Coordinator therefore charged them to ensure that whatever revenue that accrued on the land went for the benefit of their subjects.
"We know that the "stool" is the embodiment of the souls and aspirations, of a community, therefore the maintenance of the status of the stool, does not only refer to the person of the occupant, but also the socio-economic standing of the particular community in terms of development, failing which, the trusteeship relationship or contract between a chief and his subjects may have been seriously compromised," he stated.
He asked the district assemblies to set aside guidelines for use of stool revenue by the assemblies just as there were guidelines for use by the common fund, and asked the traditional rulers to let the inauguration serve as an incentive for them to step up efforts at good governance in terms of land administration. Mr Menash assured the chiefs that LAP would help in the promotion of good governance, transparency and accountability in land administration.
Mr Adjei Yeboah, Deputy Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines, noted that "since, October 2003, government, through the land administration project, has made great strides in the transformation of the land administration systems in the country as a result of consistent pursuit of the project objective of reforming the systems, and structures of the land sector for the country to reap the full benefits of the available land and natural resources, poverty reduction and promote socio-economic development".
He said institutional reform aimed at establishing a one-stop-shop public land sector agency is on course, adding, the new lands commission bill is before parliament, and expressed the hope that the bill would be passed into law by the last session of 2008.
"Preparations towards the development of a modern office complex for a one-stop-shop service at Accra, is at an advanced stage and construction would soon begin.
"Again all the necessary consultations for the purpose of drafting a new lands bill have been completed and the drafting committee has started its work," he added.
The Deputy Minister said as at August 31, 2008, 38 customary land secretariats had been established, seven of nineteen new ones were inaugurated in Accra for traditional authorities in Greater Accra, Eastern and Volta Regions, three at Takoradi in Western Region and Central Regions.
Additionally, he said five of such new secretariats would be inaugurated at Tamale for Paga, Bongo, Damongo, North Mo (Bamboi) and Sagmaalu of Wa.
He stated that government would continue to build capacity of the pilot secretariats that have been established through training programmes for customary land secretariats staff and members of the land management committees.
Mr Yeboah expressed the hope that the computers, office furniture, photo copiers', cabinets and motor bikes provided by government to support the secretariats would be properly maintained and used to the benefit of the entire community. The Deputy Minister later presented three Yamaha motor bikes, each for the three towns together with computers and accessories, office furniture, photo copiers and cabinets to the traditional leaders of the three communities.