Lands Ministry to undertake reforms
Minister of Lands and Country Planning has spoken about plans to undertake serious reforms in the ministry with the creation of separate directorates for Housing and Planning, as well as digitizing all their operations.
Dr. Turad Senesie was speaking at the weekly government press briefing hosted in the conference room of the Ministry of Information and Communications.
He explained that governments in and out have focused on land allocation especially in the Western Area with little or no planning towards affordable housing for low and middle income classes.
“I believe there has to be a change of approach in the discharge of our duties as a ministry,” he said, adding that government will now focus on country planning and affordable housing as a priority while land allocation will be a secondary issue.
“In order to meet the timely expectations of the public, I intend separating the Directorate of Housing and Country Planning into two separate directorates; Directorate of Country Planning and Directorate of Housing,” he announced.
The Lands Minister maintained that the Directorate of Country Planning will be charged with, among others, controlling and regulating urban planning, establish an urban design unit, establish country planning and district planning committees, Initiate a holistic development plan including structure and local plans and conduct research relating to town and urban planning.
For the Directorate of Housing, Dr. Senesie stated that they will be working with partners to build affordable housing around the country for low and middle income earners, envision the modernization of towns and cities, replace derelict and shanty communities, encourage the setting up of home finance institutions, encourage large scale production of local building materials, work with the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation to improve on service delivery.
He pointed out that in the Western Area land accounts for about just 17% of the total land available in the country, noting that because of the scarcity in the supply of land, expensive rent imposed by landlords and upsurge in urbanization, the rush for land has increased, thus inviting state and non-state actors into the sale of a piece of land to multiple buyers with multiple documentations. This state of affairs, according to him, has led to series of conflicts over land ownership in communities.
To correct such anomalies and other related crimes associated with land allocation and ownership, the Lands Minister said his ministry is going to pursue digitization of the entire system using robust and appropriate technology
“It is my belief that Sierra Leoneans want to see their towns and cities competing with other towns and cities around the globe. We can do this if we are all ready to just do some amount of sacrifice and demonstrate some level of nationalism. This requires Discipline, Decency and Honesty (DDH). Let us all inculcate the habit of DDH and make our towns and cities the envy of Sub Saharan Africa,” he challenged citizens.