MASERU — The Land Administration Authority (LAA) Director General Mahasha Chaka said the introduction of systemic regularisations and rural land allocation processes has made huge strides towards providing secure title deeds for land leasing in urban areas.
The finance minister Leketekete Ketso and development planning minister Moeketsi Majoro this week visited LAA offices where Chaka said his team has already registered 45 825 regularised leases which are being processed while some have already been issued to residents. He told the ministers the project’s initial target was issuing 55 000 secure titles to land in the Maseru urban area, Mazenod, Maputsoe and Hlotse.
Chaka told the ministers though the authority had failed to complete the project by September 15 when the Millennium Challenge Account Lesotho ended its compact, they have since secured a grace period to finalise leases already in the hands of the LAA. He allayed fears of Basotho who live in the specified towns who are not covered by the project saying they are also going to be embarking on a mop-up exercise to ensure all pieces of land in these areas have leases.
The ministers were also given a brief guided tour of three LAA departments of customer services, deeds registry and the survey departments by Chaka. During the tour, Chaka said one of the successes of the project was the migration from paper filing to electronic databases usage which he said sped up the process.
Talking about the deeds registry, Chaka said the LAA is waiting for the Lesotho Communications Authority to pass the Electronic Bill so as to include electronic signatures in the registration of title deeds to land. He told the ministers the current deeds are very secure and there cannot be duplication of deeds or multiple applications to a single piece of land as access to the deeds registrar is very restricted and no fake or fraudulent deed would make it to the filing systems of the registry.
Touching on the surveying department, Chaka told the ministers, Lesotho only has nine surveyors who have to grapple with problems of people who end up claiming plots that do not belong to them on maps when trying to locate their own.
He said as opposed to the western countries Lesotho has adopted use of fixed boundaries as opposed to general markings when marking land. Chaka said general markings are dependent on physical features found on a piece of land and normally cause disputes but Lesotho decided to adopt use of fixed boundaries which do not change. Meanwhile Ketso commended the LAA progress while also highlighting he sees the challenges the authority met when it had to adjust people’s land to meet their initial legal requirements.
He assured the authority it has government support towards the continuity of the land reforms it is engaged in. He said in the past it was difficult and it took years to get a lease but with the LAA he sees a new era pointing out the use of technology to ease what used to be a tedious process that employees abhor “looking for a file.”