The National Land Agency (NLA) is carrying out preliminary field investigations at areas across the island under its systematic land registration programme.
The initiative seeks to assist persons to obtain titles for property they have lived on open, undisturbed and undisputed for upwards of 12 years, through the process of adjudication.
It is being facilitated under the Registration of Titles, Cadastral Mapping and Tenure Clarification (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 2020, which was passed in Parliament in June of last year.
The objective is to increase security of tenure and provide for a more efficient and systematic land-titling system.
Senior Director for the NLA’s Adjudication Services Division, Shalise Porteous, told JIS News that “during the period September to November, we started conducting preliminary interviews in St. Elizabeth with landowners to just determine the level of interest of persons”.
“Thereafter, what we did in November was to conduct preliminary field investigations in Flagaman, an area that we recommended to the Prime Minister to be declared a systematic adjudication area. So, we used Flagaman as a pilot to determine the level of interest of persons, and do some investigations to see if the parcels are subdivided etc.,” she noted.
St. Elizabeth, along with Portland, has been highlighted by the NLA as the parishes with the lowest rates of land registration.
Ms. Porteous said that with the success of the investigations from the Flagaman pilot project “teams were deployed to other areas on January 18, to conduct preliminary field investigations prior to actually commencing systematic land registration”.
“So by the time we commence the fieldwork, we have an idea of who the landowners are, who the possible supporting declarations are, and if there are any issues re subdivisions or encroachments with the parcels [of land],” she explained.
Meanwhile, Ms. Porteous said that 22 districts across the island, most of which are in St. Elizabeth, were declared systematic adjudication areas in January, and the NLA is in the process of having those declarations gazetted.
After the gazetting, land surveying and verification interviews can take place to produce and publish an adjudication record.
This is a register that establishes existing land rights with the names of persons claiming an interest in the parcel of land.
Objections to the adjudication record can be made to an established adjudication committee or in court to contest the ownership of the land. If there are no objections to the record, an adjudication certificate will be issued as conclusive proof of ownership. That certificate can be lodged at the Office of Titles for a land title to be issued.