Govt clears air on reclaimed land

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FATE of 17 dormant plantations and 227 plots that the government has so far repossessed lies in the hands of regional administrations, it has been learnt.

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development last month announced plantations and estates whose ownership was revoked under President John Magufuli’s government.

Commissioner for Lands in the ministry, Ms Mary Makondo told the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that after the repossession, the ministry handed over the properties to regional administrations, which in collaboration with the National Land Use Planning Commission (NLUPC) decide on their uses.

“This is a participatory exercise which takes time,” Ms Makondo noted, but quickly explained that the ministry was giving guidance to the regions on how to allocate the land by considering actual needs.

The pieces of land are allocated as per requirement for investment, infrastructure, environmental protection, land bank and so on.

Among others, the functions of the NLUPC are to prepare regional physical land use plans, formulate land use policies for implementation by the government and to specify standards, norms and criteria for protection of beneficial uses and maintenance of the quality of land.

In the same vein, the ministry’s Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr Moses Kusiluka, earlier explained that the revocation and giving of farms and plots to citizens is a complicated issue. He said the decision means that the owners have gone against the conditions, which are legally binding, for developing the respective land.

Once violated, the owners are given 90-day ultimatum by the councils to explain why they have failed to develop the land, and if not satisfied with the reasons, the councils recommend for the revocation so that it can be allocated for other uses.

Dr Kusiluka pointed out that the land was needed for several development programmes such as industrialisation. The government has been reiterating its intention to repossess all land for which title deeds have been issued, but which has remained idle for a long time.

Speaking during public meetings in Tanga Region early last month, President Magufuli said once the land was repos sessed, it would be distributed to people who will use it. Dr Magufuli said he had already revoked ownership of five estates in the region with a total of 14,000 acres, which had been left idle for many years.

The President noted, for instance, land ownership in Tanga Region has always been a contentious matter, but his government is determined to end the disputes, noting that out of 72 estates that have been lying idle for years, he has already revoked ownership of five.

He added that the Commissioner for lands had already issued notice to other 12 owners and was waiting for the Minister to present the files to him also to revoke their ownership.

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