The Customary Land Secretariat (CLS)has been hailed by a cross section of Chiefs and traditional rulers in the country as a potent tool for streamlining land administration in the country.
CLS is a component of Land Administration Project (LAP) that would oversee the implementation of various activities including registration and documentation of parcels of land in rural Ghana.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), on Wednesday at the national learning workshop at Dodowa near Accra, Seidu Amankwa Gbeadese II, Bolewura, said CLS was not introduced to usurp chiefs’ control over land.
“We were initially skeptical but this system of land administration rather empowers the chief together with other land owning persons to have a common voice in matters of land administration,” he said.
He said CLS rather entrusted powers the traditional rulers never had and brought sanity in the land administration system in areas such as documentation of land and settling land disputes at the local level.
The Bolewura said those in possession of old documents on their land were helped to acquire new ones as a means of regularizing the system.
He said the most remarkable accomplishment of the CSLs was the use of the Alternative Dispute Resolution which according to him served as a credible means of conflict resolution.
He said in the past, people who did not own land could sell parcels of land under false pretence but such practice could no longer hold since the real owner would have had documents on all land under his jurisdiction.
Nana Barima Asu-Adjei, Krontihene of Dormaa traditional area, said the introduction of the CSL was a remarkable improvement on the previous method of land administration in the country.
He said “the use of the ADR system in settling cases was more effective and cost effective as it does not breed animousity among litigants even after settlement unlike the costly court system that leaves losers torn and bruised after the verdict is announced.’”
He said the CLS has had all houses in traditional areas enumerated, lands surveyed which had been very beneficial to the communities as it formed the data base of the traditional area.
Torgbui Kportsu Amengor II, chief of Fievie traditional area in the South Tongu district in the Volta region, said the CLS was only at Sogakope and called on the government to assist in expanding it to other areas of the Tongu district when funds were available.
Though fifty CLSs are expected to be established, only 38 were operational as the project draws to an end in August 2009.
He said the introduction of the CLS had helped reduced multiple sale of land in his traditional area.
Torgbui Amengor said in the past people who took land from legitimate owners for farming purposes could sell them without the knowledge of the owners and noted that presently, those in need of land no longer go to individuals but come to the secretariat.
He said under the ADR, cases involving multiple sale of land were peacefully dealt with by reallocating another plot of land to those who had genuine documents covering the land.
“In some cases we share the land among the two buyers adding that all these were done in consultation with the two parties,” he said.
“It is win-win affair not the court systems which crown one party and condemn the other party,” he said.
He said although, funding of the CLS ends in August 2009, he was optimistic that the secretariat would be self sufficient through proceeds from the sale of land and other services rendered to the people.
He called on other traditional rulers who could not apply for a CLS in their area to do so now as a matter of urgency.
LAP which is aimed at making land administration system more effective and efficient to promote security of tenure amongst others was established in 2003 as framework for implementing the National land policy adopted in 1999.It is jointly sponsored by the government of Ghana and six other development partners.