Five Counties ‘Red Zones’ for Land Conflicts in Liberia

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LLA officials pose for a photo at the kick-off of the retreat.

The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) has said Liberia continues to experience huge land conflicts in Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba, Bong, and Grand Bassa counties as these are the “red zones” of land conflicts in the country. This assertion comes against the current backdrop of a spate of land-related conflicts which appear to be on the increase.

Dr. Cecil T. O. Brandy, chairman of the Liberia Land Authority, made the assertion on Monday at the kickoff of the LLA’s week-long retreat held under the theme: “From Transition to Full Operation.” The week-long conference is bringing together over 40 participants, including heads of departments.

Dr. Brandy said Liberia is overwhelmed with land cases, indicating that the rural communities are also experiencing the problem, especially those involving boundary disputes between clans.

“Margibi is seriously overwhelmed with land cases, including Duazohn community. It’s considered as the corridor of land problems in Liberia. Marshall and Todee have many land cases ranging from double sales to fake ownership. Bong, Nimba, and Montserrado continue to have more cases,” he said.

The retreat, according to Dr. Brandy, will also focus on laying procedures in handling or addressing land conflicts, stating, “Nothing about the land issue is small as the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) layout procedures are now in place to resolve land conflicts.”

ADR includes dispute resolution processes and techniques that serve to bring disagreeing parties together, short of litigation. It is a collective term for the ways that parties can settle disputes, with the help of a third party. This involves handling land cases outside of the court, which is less expensive and works for contending parties.

“Counties in the southeast continue to report low land disputes, with some recording three to four in a year. We will concentrate on those counties that continue to report more land cases. Today, we have land coordinating centers in some counties due to the continuous land disputes,” he said.

Dr. Brandy said the LLA also plans to train more surveyors across the country, a situation that will assist in properly surveying land across Liberia.

“We never had surveying regulations in the past. We have developed the new regulations and agreed on procedures on surveying the land. This resulted into overlap and encroaching on people’s property,” he said.

According to Dr. Brandy, Liberia also needs deeds with security features, “this is something that we are currently working on and other issues, including certified copies.”

“This requires us to transition where staffers will be given or assigned new responsibilities, functions, and assets. The ongoing transition activities will create new structures, including offices in the various counties, to allow the LLA to properly perform or handle land issues and conflicts,” Dr. Brandy said.

Dr. Brandy also described the land rights law as one of the most important pieces of legislation, which has changed everything, especially the ownership of land in the country.

“This Act gives ownership rights to the rural and indigenous communities. It also protects private ownership rights and strengthens land rights for all Liberians. It’s now important for us to reach out to rural communities to educate people. They need to know their rights regarding land ownership,” he said.

According to Dr. Brandy, the act calls for transitioning, which includes staffers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Land Commission, Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) and Ministry of Mines & Energy.

Stanley N. Toe, executive director of LLA, said he was delighted that the LLA was heading to full implementation of the Act. He said the objective of the retreat is intended to allow employees of the LLA to retrospect on things that were done in the past and what is pending.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Original boundaries of land in Liberia is not in dispute because the war interfered with these areas of ownership. It is heritage that identifies the outcome and eventually resolves with the reconciliation process. Land dispute is not strange to the Liberian nation since its foundation in 1847. When there were 3 provinces in Liberia, Land ownership was resolved through data from archives from comparative community efforts to ensure the rightful owners of finger prints,scrolls and signs of chiefs and elders. With now 15 counties it becomes a simpler issue. Survey is more positive in the resolution than analysis brought from purchases. Such inheritance is similar to a gift of God that cannot be sliced from the actual owner, no matter how experts on land the claim may appear. Say it to the people. Not me.
    Gone to silent majority.

  2. The period between 1949 to 1977, many Liberians government officials were engage in purchasing large acres of land. Some bought as large as 5000 acres of land. The only crop planted on those huge acres was 95% rubber. I m not against the idea of land ownership. But more indigenous population were squeeze at various outskirts, due to these purchases. Clans were divided, chiefdom lay waste, as the result, inhabitants of those chiefdom and clans have to switch traditional means of earning a living from farming and cultivating rice, to working for rubber plantations, palm fields and sugar cane plantations, etc. According to studies, most of these purchase were done between 1950 to 1978 the, the iron boom period.
    The majority of these purchases were hugely concentrated in four counties closer to the capital: Montserrado County, Lower Bong County, Grand Bassa and Bomi County.
    Montserrado County ounce included Marshall Territory (Now Margibi County), Todee District (including the right flank of the St. Paul River). Running up to the Bong Mining Company and down to the flat land of Mount Coffee at the St. Paul Hydro Plant. When you travel around this area, you will find out that there are little settlements of two or three corrugated zinc-brick houses at every 7 to 8 miles distance called Cooper Ta, Dennis Ta, Charles Ta, etc. In the Kpelle Dialect, Ta Means Town. The indigenous quickly name those little rubber plantations or Palm plantation of Mr. Cooper, Mr. Dennis and Mr. Charles after their respective owners.
    I came to realized this when I was growing up in the late 1988, 89. As a little guy, my mother and I traveled around there many times to see her dad who was living in Koon Ta (Koon Town), a town next to the Military Barrack in Todee.
    This happened in many of the four counties I just mentioned.

    After the 1980 coup that brought the PRC in power, many of those who own those plantations either died, or left the country. Some of those farms stood idle for 10 years with no operation taking place. To make matter worst, the 1990 war prolong the reopening of any privately own farmland at the time.

    Those that were the original settle inhabitants of those places, before it was purchased in 50s, 60s and 70s children or grand children are coming back to claimed their ‘ancestral properties’.

    Many clans and chiefdom land disputes are originated from intermarriages, too.
    Let the government please set up a task force to amicably handle this toxic problem. Land dispute can be deadly. No land, no production, no economic strength….an individual cannot be a person without any means of production.

    From Sydney: Economic Empowerment for all Liberians

  3. “No land, no production, no economic strength….an individual cannot be a person without any means of production. ” Nice line from Mamadu S. Bah above

    Let’s get the courts to do their jobs rather that make gains from the people’s disputes.

  4. the land should be use to live for the liberian people because in this world people are aways fighting for the land and the land is there for us to live in people should heip people but to go to my land and all of my family land and try to take it it is not going to happen because the law is there to stop them if the law will do

  5. Most purchases of the land were done through the use of force and intimidation during those days. In some towns and villages near Monrovia, the residents of those villages do not own any land. All were purchased by those so called big shops such the Philips, Heneries, Deshields, , etc, etc. for example. So when the military coup took place, the villagers then reclaimed their land taken from them by force or intimidation. During those days no one could refuse to sell land to people like James T. Philips and so forth. Even though their children are returning back with claims to the land, they will be unsuccessful the land was acquired falsely through the use of force and intimidation.

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