Monday, June 6, 2011

Whose land is it anyway?

The other day I spoke with one of the richest men in Ghana (founder of a large financial institution) and he told me he stopped buying land in Ghana because he has lost all faith in the land title process.

A few months before, I heard how a man in East Legon was almost burned alive (literally) by a rival group in a dispute over land. Forget juju! We are literally killing each other over land in Ghana now!

There are some plots of land in East Legon that have 3 or 4 owners locked in court disputes for decades because some unscrupulous local chief and his family sold and resold the same plot of land to different people.

My question is how come the 3rd and 4th buyers didn’t know the land was in dispute? Shouldn’t there be an easy, convenient, accessible, and authoritative way of finding out who owns what plot of land in Ghana and which are in dispute?

This issue is so fundamental to the future of our country but I wonder why nobody bothers to ask our “honorable” parliamentarians what they are doing to address the problem. I guess everybody is busy talking about how our newly discovered oil will magically make Ghana like Norway. Walahi!

It’s one of the reasons land in places like East Legon is overpriced by at least multiples of 5 (i.e. land that should cost about $10,000 a plot costs $50,000 a plot). Since there are so many plots of land in dispute, any legitimate piece of land will cost you more. This is why homes in Trasacco Valley cost almost $750K. Do you really believe those houses are worth $750K? Of course you are paying for the peace of mind. Would you rather buy land for $100K to build a house in East Legon and be locked in court battles for 20 years or would you rather just pay up now and know beyond a shadow of doubt that you own a house - albeit an extremely overpriced house.

It’s serious enough that one of the richest men in Ghana will not dare buy land anymore. Just pause for a minute and think about the economic implications of that.

What would it take to solve the problem? Who are we waiting for?

1 comment:

  1. So true and yet this thought provoking piece went without comment? Development partners have given us so much money towards land administration. So one may ask? what did we do with all that. Families have been torn apart because of land litigations; the use of land guards and juju many lives should we lose before something drastic is done? Perhaps one of the rich men in Ghana should lose their lives first, then we can get some attention. One solution would be that instead of our governments selling state lands to themselves they should use the land banks to build not just social housing but reasonable pricing for flats that every up and coming person can aspire to acquire. Congrats