Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 March 2021:
Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Lands yesterday announced, “It has observed that while the Ministry is in the process of establishing a dispute resolution committee to address the overwhelming concerns raised by the public over the manner in which lands were administered or allocated, certain individuals have embarked on massive unauthorised construction and forest degradation activities.”
In its public statement published, the Ministry said that it “has also noticed with dismay the recent deforestation and forest degradation along the Western Area Peninsula National Park (WAPNP) and other Protected Areas. These activities have damaging effects on the surrounding environment. The Ministry hereby entreats the general public to desist from any of these unlawful activities as defaulters will face the full force of the law,” it warns.
“In view of this, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning is deploying State Land Guards along the WAPNP, Wetlands, Waterways, Bridges and Hilltops. The public is hereby encouraged to cooperate with these guards and report any illegal activity to the local authorities in the respective communities for prompt action.”
The ministry reminds the public that “an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Lands and Water Catchment was constituted with a view to protect the Forest Reserves and Water Catchment Areas within the Western Area. These areas have been mapped out and collectively protected by the Committee headed by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning.
“The Ministry appreciates the efforts and collaboration of the local authorities around these various communities and assures all of utmost cooperation, fairness, accountability and transparency in the administration and management of the land sector.”
This statement comes following the appointment of a Lands Dispute and Complaints Committee by minister Senessie last week. Ina separate statement published yesterday about the committee, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning said that it “wishes to inform the general public that a Complaints Committee has been constituted to look into land disputes in the Western Area between April 2018 and January 2021.
“The Nine-Man Committee is hosting its sessions at the Bank Complex in Kingtom, Freetown starting Tuesday March 9, 2021. The Committee shall be receiving formal complaints from the general public at the Bank Complex Venue and through Email to the address: firstname.lastname@example.org
“All those who feel aggrieved on land allocation issues over the aforementioned period under review should forward their official complaints to the Committee with photocopies of all relevant documents to substantiate their claims.
“The Committee has been mandated to look into these land grievances and to submit its findings and recommendations to the Government for appropriate actions”.
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