The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Gov’t Launches Squatters-Ownership Initiative, But…

By Alex Yomah
The government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance, Liberia Land Authority (LLA) with partnership from MEDICI-LAND GOVERNANCE over the weekend launched a “Systematic Land titling Project in Clara Town” which among other things, is intended to give land owners legal protection and give squatters ownership.
The project which was officially launched by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, is aimed at titling and digitalizing Liberia’s land to give recognition to owner’s legal protections and land giving squatters an opportunity to own land that they have squatted on for decades.
But disappointingly, residents of Clara Town and its environs shunned the launch of the initiative in what appeared to be “sheer disregards” to authority. Residents have contrast views of the project despite government’s explanations about the project and what squatters and land owners are expected to benefit.
Giving an overview of the project, Samuel Tweah asserted that the project is in fulfillment of a discussion he and his team held two years ago during the World Bank annual meeting at which his team met with MEDICI-LAND GOVERNANCE following an in-depth revision of its “conception” on resolving land disputes.
“This project is intended to make Liberians have legal protection on their lands which primary objective is to resolve land conflicts,” Tweah explained.
Tweah said the systematic titling project is not intended to take people’s land away or witch-hunt as it has been speculated, rather it is to resolve long standing disputes and give legal protection to those who have.
“Land challenges are critical in Liberia. You can clearly see that lots of the issues we had were involved in land issues. The Land Authority has been set-up to resolve land issues through this project. “Let’s stop calling people squatters; let’s give our people their lands and let’s stop referring to them as squatters,” Tweah appealed.
Even though Ms. Beatrice D. Williams, Commissioner of Clara Town failed to explain reasons that led to her citizens avoiding despite been informed, rendered an apology.
Some residents, who confided in this paper on account of anonymity, claimed that the program was poorly attended due to lack of clear message to the residents about the intent of the program while others alleged that the program is a plot for government to unfairly evacuate them (squatters) without compensations.
But Minister Tweah blamed officials of the Ministry of Finance and Land Authority who are the planners for not fully engaging the communities who are direct beneficiaries of the project.
Tweah demanded re-launch of the project so that the communities, can be sufficiently mobilized to be part of the initiative by knowing about the project.
“Inform the communities; land owners need to know that the project is not intended to take away their land; make them to understand that government wants to give official recognition to them and that is what this program is all about. It is not about revenue generation, it is about giving recognition to people who are on land, no taking land from them,” he stressed.

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