Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I support this Motion because it deals with a very important matter as far as the economic development of this country is concerned. It has to do with land. Mr Speaker, when the Bill was referred to your Committee, we looked closely at it, and found that it satisfies the provisions of article 106(2) of the Constitution, which requires that a Bill must be accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum that sets out in detail its policies and principles, and also identifies the weaknesses of the existing law, and proposes remedies to deal with the defects.
Mr Speaker, as you are very much aware, the land sector plays a very important role in the economic development of this country.
Nevertheless, the sector is beset with a lot of challenges. I wish to identify just a few of the challenges, and perhaps, dwell on two that I would raise. One of the challenges of the sector is the uncertainty of title to land. We also have multiple sale of land, indeterminate boundaries. Finally and thirdly, the menace of land guards in the land sector.
Mr Speaker, as I said, I will dwell on only two of the challenges. On uncertainty of title, in this country, it is possible for two or three people to take a conveyance on one plot of land. In other words, Hon Akoto Osei could take a piece of land from a land owner and would be given a lease or an indenture. For the same parcel of land, Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu could also have documents covering it, and perhaps, Hon Collins Dauda could also have documents covering the same piece of land.
Mr Speaker, the reason is simple, and it is that people who say they have land and put it up for sale do not have land title. They have not registered their lands. In this world, anybody who has something to sell should be able to prove ownership of that which he has to sell, but in terms of land, that is not the case. Anybody sells and therefore, creates problems and confusion in the land sector.
Mr Speaker, the menace of land guards has come to stay with us. It may not leave us today or tomorrow because of one reason. The reason is, the prevalence of land guards in this country is mainly as a result of undue delays in disposing land cases in our courts. When land cases delay unduly in the courts, parties lose confidence in the courts and therefore, decide to find their own ways of protecting their lands.
Normally, if one has a property and someone wants to take it, he runs to the law to save him, but if he runs and the law does not save him, he devises his own means of protecting that which belongs to him.
Mr Speaker, I will share a practical experience with you. I used to be the Chairman of the Town Development Committee in my village, Mehame. In that village, there were two people litigating over a boundary, and the land involved was not up to eight acres, yet they were in court for over 21 years. Out of frustration, both parties agreed and came to me as the Chairman of the Town Development Committee to get the matter resolved for them.
I, together with some other members of the committee, went to the field, and looked at the land. It was so simple. In a matter of three
days, we resolved the matter, and got this case withdrawn from court and settled it. Mr Speaker, if our courts would expeditiously dispose of land cases then we would head toward dealing with the menace of land guards. If land cases in our courts continue to delay unduly as we have today, it would be very difficult for us to deal with the menace of land guards in the country.
Mr Speaker, all the challenges I have identified are not found in the management or administration of public lands. They are issues or challenges affecting management of stool lands, family lands and clan lands or individual lands. Therefore a way must be found to address this concern.
Mr Speaker, the Land Bill before us is expected to address these challenges, but I looked at the provisions in the Bill and it would interest you to know that this Bill is a consolidation of existing laws and an update of existing laws. And these challenges have been with us since time immemorial, and the existing laws that are being consolidated today were not able to address the challenges. Is there any hope that this new one would address the challenges when it is a consolidation?