The government is seeking means through which idle, underdeveloped urban lands breeding slums and other problems can revert to the state, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said.
"We have also in the urban areas many people holding on to land undeveloped, unused, creating problems for us--sanitation problems. We are looking at and we want the land commission to help us to examine the practices in other countries whereby if a land goes undeveloped for certain period of time, it reverses to the government so that we can put it to proper use", the President told a gathering at the Land Commission last week, adding amidst applause, "We are not going to allow Liberians to become tenants in their own country."
She said other models of productive land ownership will be examined to find a solution.
"So, we are going to look at the experiences of other countries and those cases where if someone were to sell their land or to lease their land", the government could enter as owner.
"The illegal sale of land, the illegal possession, the squatters right and the squatters lack of right need to also be looked at to stop this tensions that is happening in our society because of illegal land sales starting illegal possession land that rightfully belongs to others.
Again, I challenge you to come to us with recommendations so that we can address these problems", she said.
She said urban land ownership and rising lack of basic facilities in the cities, particularly Monrovia, pose challenges.
The President warned that there is a need to " address the serious challenges confronting the urban land sector."
Pres. Sirleaf: :Our cities are confronted with a large number of specific challenges, the lack of access to basic services such as safe drinking water and sanitation is a condition in which many co-exist.
"The lack of public spaces and the critical need to create public space for inclusive and dynamic urban centers that enhance the quality of life.
"The lack of strategic city wise planning and zoning that results in unsafe and unregulated building, the increase dimension of urban vproperty and the numbers of urban-poor leading to an increase number of slums communities and settlements and lack of affordable water and decent shelter in towns."
The President emphasized the dangers of accelerated urbanization against food production and warned of the aftereffects.
She said heightened urbanization affects agriculture, adding, "that is increasing transforming previous agriculture land into residential urban spaces with negative impacts on food security in urban areas and the social environmental degradation of urban communities.
As a first step to address this critical urban land administration and challenges, the land commission has convene this first national urban conference which for us as a government and people should serve not only as a forum to discuss the urban land administration and management challenges but rather as a beginning for us to identify the immediate and long time solutions to our national urbanization challenges.
Successful cities are those with the vision, the commitment and the resources to bring all actors together including the sub-dwellers and to institutionalized features of well govern cities providing opportunities for economic advancement and self actualization, improving services and quality of public spaces, planning for future growth, generating revenue and attracting investments and development."
She urged the Land Commission not to be another workshop driven, numerous meetings entity, but that it should seek solutions to these and other land problems.