President Dr Julius Maada Bio has received a report on the findings of the Complaints and Dispute Resolution Committee that was mandated to investigate land disputes in the Western Area from April 2018 to January 2021.
Committee Chairman, Alhaji Mutada Sesay, who was representing the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone, thanked the President for the confidence posed in him and the 9-man committee to serve the country, emphasising that land issues were not only common in the Western Area these were also happening across the country, posing potential security challenges to the peace and community cohesion.
“After the formation of the Committee, we made a number of site visits, where necessary, to add value to our work. I want to assure you that within the timeframe and resources at our disposal, our work has been thorough, fair, just and empathetic,” he said.
The chairman further stated that the committee’s work had also resulted in the identification of the several challenges that would inform the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning to execute a sound and informed understanding of the problems around land ownership. He also noted that if the recommendations were fully implemented the decisions could prevent future problems in the ministry.
Presenting the report to President Julius Maada Bio, Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Dr Turad Senesie, said he was happy that the findings of the committee were finally being submitted, adding that just after his appointment, he had the task to restore sanity and calmness to the many issues around land ownership in the country.
He added that inasmuch as the report revealed that some members of his ministry were the cause of the many problems, the public too did not help the situation.
“Your Excellency, most of these problems are because the country lacks a regulatory framework for land management and ownership. This report will attempt to put the issue to rest. It is now my privilege to present the committee’s report to you,” he concluded.
President Bio thanked members of the Committee and staff of the ministry for what he said was a great task, adding that land disputes had remained a problem to the peace of the nation.
He noted that it was because of the many conflicts around land issues that his government put the committee together and tasked its members to find ways to properly manage land administration in communities.
He recalled that the civil war devastated the country, took away lives, destroyed property and reversed development. He, therefore, encouraged citizens not to allow land disputes and related issues to be another source of conflict in the country. He added he already charged the ministry to institutionalise the system of land acquisition in ways that could put those problems under control.
“I want to thank you all for putting this difficult task together. Cabinet will look at the report and implement the recommendations therein. You have done a great job,” he concluded.