Sunday, 22 November 2009 1:01 AM

Selling of Honiara Crown Land is a Concern

Dear editor, thank you for allowing me this space to comment on the issue concerning the above subject.

Public view that Land in Honiara is scarce for any development, but looks beyond what you think. Why is it so? It only comes to the common virus that lies in many departments that can be called the corruption. For example, the selling of land-(crown land) as benefits from the giving in much money to the hands of the officer through the under-table and break-through walls procedure. ''Come on officers you are there to our nation, not to your self''. Are the Crowns owns the land you are administering, or yourself? Think of others (the nation you causing problems to) before thinking on what your personal interests are. Be ethical, do not let monetary leads you.

Some selling of land has been the concern and a problem that the Minister nor the PS know nothing about, only the bad officers know. As Commissioner of lands said that she did not know how some land titles have been transfer to another owner on the same piece of land (crown land) evidently. So it come to the question, Does the Crown own any Portion of Land in Honiara, or does it all owned by officers?

By looking at this, Land speculation by individuals who are taking advantage of the current situation is also becoming a problem. In other words, individuals spent time applying for a parcel of land and once they are in possession of the title, he/she then sells the parcel for 20 times the amount they bought from the Commissioner back to the government and others. The Land and Titles Act spells out clearly that these individuals are not allowed to resell the land as clearly spelt out in the grant instruments in most cases. To find ways to solve these issues we must not make any more excuses but boldly acknowledge that the administration is at fault when it knowingly or unknowingly went ahead and process the transfer of titles. The problems go on.

We all should know that Land issues have been the biggest barriers to major programs of successive governments including CNURA and policies with regards to decentralization economic development throughout the country.

With regard to these, as far as I know the Lands and Tiles Act 1969, though not perfect and now needing review, has clear guidelines on matters raise here, but failure of successive governments and administrations to enforce regulations provided in the act and the inadequacies to address the problems of today has over time created huge problems for development and the proper management and administration of crown land and this will made customary landowners wary of letting their land available for any government interventions such as leasing or sub-leasing to other investors that would be a great income in years to come.

Moreover, the administration of most urban lands including Honiara has been widely criticized by the urban population and recently was highlighted by the Auditor General's report as riddled with corrupt practices. This comes as no surprise as pressure for urban housing has continued to soar above the ability of the land administrators to meet the demand for land and housing. This can be seen clearly in the "Alternative Housing Solution, 2 June, 2008" that there are more public servants work without housing and the demand for housing is a primary issue. Land in Honiara if there would be a proper administration there would be no imbalance between the supply and demand for housing in Honiara. Public servants housing or government development would not be a concern.

Therefore, titles have to be monitored likewise for the administration. Remember that land administration is the regulatory framework, institutional arrangement, systems and processes that encompass the determination, allocation, administration, and information concerning land. It is challenge indeed that needs to be considered sooner or later before percentage of crown land which is 15% will then reduce to none in the future.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Morris Tora and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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