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.