Land commission ties land grabbing to unlawful officials

Robert Lado Loki, Chairperson of land and public Utilities/Photo Bida Elly David

By Bida Elly David

The Chairperson of the National Commission of Land and Public Utilities has accused high authorities among many others for depriving laws and orders as they continue land grabbing.

Mr. Robert Lado Loki made the remarks during a consultative workshop on the deliberation of Central Equatoria State draft land Bill.

He said that the continued land grabbing in South Sudan especially in Juba occurs due to poor laws and lack of technical people to perform the right task.

“Initially when I was appointed, land grabbing was because people said they didn’t have land. If you see inside the barracks, there are very many mountainous buildings owned by commanders who are richer than everybody through land grabbing. They claimed they were not given land. Constitutional post holders, parliamentarians were given land but still were grabbing. The second purpose of land grabbing was for business purposes,” he said.

He suggested that for people to fear the law, it has to be tough, stating that when a person grabs land by force, there must be serious punishment on that crime.

He said it does not matter how big or small you are but the law speaks. He furthermore said involving politicians to head land issues was one way that contributed to failures and law enforcement.

“It is through a technical committee that issues concerning land grabbing should be handled, not people with poor experience on land disputes. You cannot say there is an outbreak of Corona and you bring the Minister of Health to be in Charge yet she is not a doctor. Anything concerning technical things require technical people. You cannot put politicians in such technical areas when they bear no idea in such areas. If you do, you are contributing failures to all programs because they are not meant to be with the technical committees,” he stressed.

Mr. Loki said ownership of land can only be defined by the law not through grabbing.

“Land is a most difficult and complicated thing when we come to its allocation. We cannot understand the allocation of land unless we have the law. For systematic land issues to be understood, there must be establishment of law which talks of the commission, functions, the powers, the structure and how does it relate to other bodies at various ministries’’ the land commission chairperson emphasized.

At the same note, he said governments at all levels were mandated to seek for advice from the land commission before decisions, and urged the land commission to be cautious of deforestation.

He said land commission should advice various government level over the use and allocation of land.

The chairperson of land commission stated that accordingly foreigners have drastically embarked on clearing land for charcoal.

He said if land commission does not advice all levels of government on the use and management of land, then management will become difficult.

“The army used to dig, the Eritreans, Ugandans have been clearing the forest. If it continues like that, we are going to experience Sahara Desert in some parts of Juba, Kajo-Keji, Lainya, Maridi and they will suffer drastically,” he said.

Mr. Loki said in the draft of Central Equatoria State Land Act Bill, that he has not seen the powers to arbitration being one of the powers of independent land commission. He stated that when there is land grabbing at the other side of the river, they form a committee headed by the Minister of Housing and other administrators.

He further said that the bill should clearly indicate the areas demarcated under the Mayor of the city Council, and the Commissioner of the County to avoid contradiction.

He said the constitution forbids land from being sold to foreigners, but rather should be leased for a certain period of time.

“Our constitution does not allow land to be sold to foreigners. Ownership of land according to the Constitution is forbidden. What land owners should do is to lease their plots of land for certain periods of time,” he stated.

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