Land grabbing on the rise
Land grabbing is still going on even after the new Minister of Lands, Dr Turad Senessie issued a stern warning against the practice. The removal of Dr Denis Sandy as Minister of Lands seems to have opened a gateway for land grabbers to have a field day.
While the current Minister is adopting a somewhat academic approach to dealing with the national crisis, the absence of the threat of demolitions of unauthorized structures and reclamation of State Lands is fueling the appetite of land grabbers who now see the new Minister’s approach as ineffective.
From Regent, Gloucester, Bathurst and Charlotte communities in the Mountain Rural District of the Western Area, through Grafton, Kossoh Town, Hastings, Allen Town, Waterloo and beyond, land grabbing activity is clearly visible from the main Wellington-Masaika highway.
The cost of clearing debris washed from the hills and maintaining the double carriage way ultimately falls on the Government and the Chinese Railway Seventh Group (CRSG) that administers the toll gates along the route.
In addition, flooding is now occurring in areas that never before in the history of Sierra Leone experienced this man-made disaster.
The problem of land grabbing has now reached near cataclysmic proportions, and the new Minister’s approach does not seem to be helping the situation that will certainly continue until and unless hardline measures are taken to drive home the point that enough is enough, and that there would be serious consequences for violators of the law. Not being a lawyer himself, the minister would have to rely on ‘honest’ legal advice on how best to handle lawsuits that are bound to follow if and when the Minister decides to embark on demolition of unauthorized structures and reclamation of state lands.
Former Ministers in that troubled Ministry faced public acrimony and a barrage of law suits; the Late Dr Alfred Bobson Sesay and erstwhile Dr Denis Sandy were demonized as trouble shooters whose actions did not augur well for the political ambitions of the government they served.
The year 2007 ushered in a new administration that tended to encourage land grabbing. The actions and gains of late Dr Bobson Sesay while he was Minister of Lands under the first post-war SLPP government were thrown overboard with a view to appeasing that portion of the electorate that were averse to the former Minister’s actions. The problem was compounded even further when Musa Tarawally, Minister of Lands under the APC, resorted to what seemed settling scores with political opponents that were perceived to be beneficiaries of the ousted government’s approach to land allotment and reclamation.
Now under the Bio led administration, land grabbing is still a teething issue that has apparently cost Dr Denis Sandy his job as Minister of lands. Observers are waiting to see which direction the current Minister is heading, and whether he has the wherewithal to tackle the intricate legal issues that would be thrust upon him if and when he dares to take austere measures against land grabbers and their accomplices holed up in the legal system fraught with inconsistencies and anomalies in the administration of land tenure in the Western Area.
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