Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 March 2021:
Minister of Lands and Country Planning, Dr. Turad Senesie, said last Thursday that his first priority is to reform the ministry by creating separate Directorates – Lands, Housing, and Planning. He said he will digitalise their operations. He was speaking at the weekly government press briefing hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communications.
Dr. Senesie explained that successive governments have focused on land allocation, especially in the Western Area with little or no planning, and lack of focus on providing affordable housing for low- and middle-income households.
“I believe there has to be a change of approach in the discharge of our duties as a ministry,” he said, adding that government will now focus on country planning and affordable housing development as a priority, while land allocation will become a secondary issue.
“In order to meet the timely expectations of the public, I intend separating the Directorate of Housing and Country Planning into two separate directorates; Directorate of Country Planning and Directorate of Housing,” he announced.
The Lands Minister said that the Directorate of Country Planning will be charged with controlling and regulating urban planning, establishing an urban design unit, establish country planning and district planning committees, initiate a holistic development plan – including structure and local plans, and conduct research relating to town and urban planning.
The Directorate of Housing on the other hand, he said, will be working with partners to build affordable housing around the country for low- and middle-income earners so as to modernise towns and cities, replace derelict and shanty communities, encourage the setting up of home finance institutions, encourage largescale production of local building materials, and work with the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation to improve service delivery.
Dr. Senesie pointed out that in the Western Area, land accounts for about 17% of the total land available in the country, noting that because of the scarcity of land, expensive rent imposed by landlords and upsurge in urbanization, the rush for land has increased, thus inviting state and non-state actors into the sale of land to multiple buyers with multiple documentations. This state of affairs, according to the minister, has led to series of conflicts over land ownership in communities.
To prevent this and other related crimes associated with land allocation and ownership, Dr Senesie said his ministry is going to digitalise the entire system using robust and appropriate technology.
“It is my belief that Sierra Leoneans want to see their towns and cities competing with other towns and cities around the globe. We can do this if we are all ready to just do some amount of sacrifice and demonstrate some level of nationalism. This requires discipline, decency, and honesty – DDH. Let us all inculcate the habit of DDH and make our towns and cities the envy of Sub Saharan Africa,” he challenged citizens.
The future wars, or if it is not already upon us, is going to be about land and water. This new lands minister Hon. Dr. Sanasie, has his work cut out for him. Unlike the previous holder of this office, and his outrageous bully tactics he deployed to deal with this sensitive land issue, my advice to the new occupant at the lands ministry is to take a common sense approach to the way he goes about dealing with these land issues in the western area. Our country’s population is growing, but not what one will call at an alarming rate. There is plenty of land in the provinces. The only difference, with internal migration to Freetown from the provinces, it has created what can only be described, the capital city has become a giant sardines can, with people living on top of each other.
More like Freetown is becoming the Hong-Kong of West Africa. Apart from population growth, the RUF wars pushed a lot of people from the country side to Freetown, for which many uprooted families, felt it was safe from attacks by drugged up child soldiers. For many, that was the first time they have set their foot in our capital. Even some of the rebel fighters, that came, killed and pillaged the city and the destruction they left in their wake, was their first time to find themselves roaming the streets of Freetown. The 2017
and 2019 flooding was one of the consequences of government;s failure to help repatriate some of our fellow Sierra Leoneans that were internally displcaed by the war. Rather they took up residence in the hills overlooking our great capital with thier idea of how a city should look like, by building mud houses that can withstand all sorts of weather conditions in the provinces, but not in Freetown.
You won’t blame them for their ignorance, because there was no government support for building materials or relocation. We need a holistic approach in tackling these issues. First government ministers need to identify where Dr Sandy went wrong, so they don’t repeat the same mistakes. Secondly work with the indigenous communities, by consulting them and trying to come up with solutions. I sometimes wonder if government ministers really acknowledge the effects of the RUF wars, and how that war waged by so-called liberators set our country’s development clock back by fifty years. If you don’t know how history influences the present you will never know how to tackle the problems of the future. History is made for lessons to be learnt.
Well said with good initiatives. Awaiting to complement with WELL DONE.
How sweet the sounds of the empty rhetoric without substance to the listening ears;(lol) This SLPP Land minister reminds me of a butcher that was also a barber I once met in Ivory Coast. He was so delusional, he would sometimes bring his butcher knife to the barber shop, thinking it was his straight-handle razor designed for cutting men’s hair.(lol) The little children would run far away from him saying: “That Butcher has a machete instead of some hair clippers, He does not know whether he is in an abattoir or a barber shop.(lol)
It seems clear to me that this new Lands minister does not have the slightest clue in which country he is or the office he is currently holding and needs to diligently do his homework. Answer – can government afford to digitalize the entire system using robust and appropriate technology? Geez! Just when you thought someone with some good sense of judgment has appeared out of the shadows, he totally disappoints you by uttering some gibberish that no one can sensibly understand.(lol)
Kudos to the Hon Minister. In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty. This obsession with the Western Area, when we have a whole country to live in, is illogical. We shall never develop as a country, if we leave out the provincial towns. If this was Europe, people would be flocking to obtain houses in Kabala, Bo and other areas. I once asked a Gambian, why he did not build his house in Banjul. He gave me a look of pity and said Serrekunda is beautiful and is my home.