By Edwin G. Wandah
The Commission solely responsible to regulate land policy in Liberia, the Land Commission yesterday held a major dialogue to address the importance of consulting stakeholders on the importance of public land policy in Liberia.
Several persons including county delegates who attended the program made significant reference to public land ownership in the country, while others did not really get the clear understanding of the documents that govern public land policy in the country.
Some of the topics discussed yesterday include Public Land, Government Land, Customary Land Ownership and Customary Land Boundaries. According to the recommendation given, some public lands should not be sold for future use, and it should apply to undeveloped unutilized lands.
It also talked about the definition of public land, which is defined as land designated for future use, managed in the public interest and which is not Government’s land, owned by a community and used or managed in accordance with customary practices and norms or owned as private land.
According to Government Land Policy, it should only be used for public purpose, while Customary Land ownership agrees with customary land ownership without deed and Customary Land Boundaries should be decided by inclusive, inter-community dialogue and should be decided by traditional leaders.
But according to Senator John Ballout of Maryland County, the issue of public ownership outside Government’s supervision does not provide any guarantee. According to the Maryland County Senior Senator, Government which is the chief regulatory body of the country cannot be left out of such a sticky land issue which is very important to the growth and development of any nation.
Senator Ballout’s argument was based on the smooth distribution of land in favor of all parties, not favoring anyone individual or family that will want to claim ownership of huge portion of public land at the detriment of the massive.
But according to the Government Land Policy, Government land which is defined as land owned by the Government and used for the buildings, projects, or activities of the Government, including but not limited to lands on which are located where offices, ministries, agencies and parastatal bodies, such as military bases, roads, public schools and public universities, public hospitals and public clinics are built.
Other facilities, such as public libraries, public museums, public utilities and airports can be Government Land. And land leased to an individual or private entity remains also Government Land even during the lease period the land is not used for the buildings, projects or activities of the Government. It also said land leased by Government from an individual or private entity, including a community is not Government Land because it is not owned by the Government.