Governor Babatunde Fashola
The Lagos State Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and digital mapping would go online before the end of the year to speed up land documentation.
The present land documentation system is slowed down by physical submission and retrieval of land information for processing land titles, particularly Certificate of Occupancy (CofO). The base station is ready and would become operational once some issues were resolved.
The Surveyor General of Lagos State, Mr. Joseph Olorunjuwon Ajenla, who stated this at the weekend, said his mission was to integrate data from the land registry, land information systems and GIS to have a robust land registry. “At the punch of a bottom we will have the characteristics of all land in Lagos State.”
He said very soon, the GIS system would be operational, explaining that the takeoff was delayed by some logistics “beyond anybody’s control. It has been uploaded and everything is set. It is just some gray areas that are being fashioned out now.”
The Control Centre, he said ought to be in the office of the Surveyor General with backup from the ICT Centre. “This will be the control area from which everybody will access it from outside through the web. We have the officers on ground to manage all resources the public will need. Once you pay by using the card system, you will have access to the web page.”
The explained that delay experienced in the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) that was blamed on the survey department, he said surveys for public land was always on time since they had some zonal offices to take care of this and that more would be created. The existing ones include, Eti Osa, Epe, Ibeju Lekki, Ikorodu, Badagry, Amuwo and Ilupeju, adding that all these offices are on ground. “We are presently trying to create two more at Ojo to manage the riverine area to Agbara and Badagry will just have a stopover at Oke Afo and those in Ojo will take over from there down to FESTAC. Amuwo will take care of Apapa and environs. We can monitor all the land in Lagos State so that cases of encroachment will be minimized.”
He stressed that public survey was in stock but that private surveys being done by private surveyors had some issues. “We I do as Surveyor General is that I supervise survey practice in Lagos State as Chairman of Ethics Committee. You can control but can only give directives to private surveyors except we make legislation to enforce the status that says 40 days after surveying a land the surveyor must bring the red copy (survey information, showing beacon numbers, among others) to the Surveyor General’s Office. We have about 500 land information applicants whose red copies are not here and this means that the survey plan submitted is just an ordinary paper and they will be thinking that the Office of the Surveyor General has been delaying their application for CofO whereas we are not.”
He said besides surveyors not submitting survey plans, there were some erroneous surveys the private surveyors do which they cannot submit to the records office. “So, these are the short comings that we have in the Surveyor General’s office. We will make legislation to ensure that the private surveyors practice ethically. Also, will talk to them to ensure they practice the right way.”
The Surveyor General said there is a transition in place to ensure that surveyors submit their red copies online instead of submitting the hard copies. “So that our CofO will be e-CofO that is coded and unlike the yellow pages we now have it will not be more than A4 paper and information embedded there can only be read electronically.”
On land acquisition, he said government acquires land for its projects for overriding public interest and to create wealth which was not just money but every other thing.
He said people who fall within this acquired land were usually compensated but that those who bought the land after the acquisition in error were not entitled to compensation.
He explained that there are two categories of acquisition; committed which means that the government has planned to execute a project on a given land such as a road. Those that are not committed, he said falls within global acquisition to deter land grabbers and prevent chaos.
The system, he said incorporates the role of the traditional land owners known as omoniles. “They apply for excision of villages and the government has been very benevolent with them by giving them parcels of land which they must plan in conformity with the designs and layout of the government. They should go in accordance with the state’s schemes so that they will not be creating slums while we are creating civil societies. That is why we supervise them.”
On the issue of high cost of land documentation, he said Governor Fashola has embarked on a reduction of the cost of land documentation. “The World Bank during their visit made the observation and the governor has said it would do all in his power to reduce this cost, not only for individual developers of housing but for every category of people who need land, including investors.
The government, he said was trying to reduce the cost of purchasing land and the cost of building. These could be done through reduction in charges.
He said prior to now, the Survey Department had six directorates in research; four of them professional and two supportive. The professional side has the cadastral survey department, the control mapping and boundaries, Lands and systems support unit (LISU).
He explained that Lagos being an aquatic state has limited land resources but that the Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration resolved to provide housing to all citizens of the state. “We want to make sure that land is available to the ordinary citizen as projected by the governor.”