By Bida Elly David
The government of Central Equatoria State has promised to stop the ongoing land grabbing practices in the State, most particularly through the law as a tool of accountability.
Speaking during the opening of a consultative workshop on a draft land bill, the Deputy Governor of Central Equatoria State Sarah Nene said that land grabbing practices in Juba have become an order of the day for those who believed they are withholding the laws in their hands.
She said the delay of State’s legislation according to 2009 Act has made many people to lose their lives and land titles from grabbers in most occasions.
The deputy governor stated that the consultative workshop on the deliberation of the draft land Bill after its completion draft shall be a gateway for transparency, accountability to ensure systematic use of the land laws with immediate effect.
“The draft bill is meant to open the gate for transparency, accountability and fairness in the State to mitigate disputes and promote agricultural activities, to boost the economic, political and cultural development,” she said.
“This meeting is to examine the history on the use of land, management and its relationship with the peoples. We at the level have put understood how critical is the situation concerning the on-going land disputes and forceful grabbing. We need to ensure the public that after the completion of the Bill, we are going to ensure that all cases of land grabbing shall be brought to an end,” she added.
The Deputy Governor reiterated that the ongoing land grabbing practices has impeded agricultural sector since most have occupied spaces to become rich.
She said the State government was aware about the State’s legal framework loopholes, and the poor relationship of citizens with the government over land matters.
“We are aware of the loss of our legal framework and the misunderstanding between us, the people and the national government on the fundamental principles, guidance for land use as well as its management for development,” madam Nene stated.
She however said most of the practice happened due to misinterpretation and misperception of land Act 2009 not to aid local understanding and interpretation leading to loss of lives of many people regarding land disputes.
She stated that according to 2009 land Act, Central Equatoria State was mandated to develop legislation on the use management and development of land but due to its delay, many people lose their lives over the issue of land in the State but still, we are committed to work on it through the bill She pointed.
On his part, Hon. the State Chairperson for land commission Lado Fred said that what has caused delay to finalized State’s bill for the land Act was funding.
“We have not completed working on the bill of the State land Act due to the financial constraints that came our way. We don’t have funding or people to supplement us with money to complete our work,” he said.
Over the past years, Central Equatoria State has been battling with rampant cases of land grabbing and land related disputes due to superiority by some top government officials and military Generals among many others.
Many plots had been forcefully taken from the rightful owners; they are vulnerable due to lack of defensive mechanism and laws to strengthen their claims. Many citizens in the Country have been forced to vacate their own ancestral plots by those who believe they have power.
A consultative work on the draft land bill for Central Equatoria State was held on Tuesday to ensure accountability and transparency towards acquisition and ownership of land in the State.