Tedious land titling made easier through LAMP

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South Central Bureau

Sunday, June 08, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Wary of the pitfalls linked to uncertified, inherited land, Neslyn Smikle and her siblings applied in October 2010 to get registered title on just over an acre owned by their aging mother.

Last month, Smikle's 95 year-old mother, Elsie Smikle -- hard of hearing but otherwise fit as a fiddle --accompanied her daughter from their home in Walderston, north west Manchester, to receive her land title at the launch of the LAMP II extension project in Mandeville.

Unsurprisingly, the elder Smikle created quite a stir as she walked on the arm of her daughter to collect her 'land paper'. She got hugs and kisses from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, minister in charge of land, Robert Pickersgill and North West Manchester Member of Parliament, Audley Shaw, among others.

A relieved Neslyn Smikle told the Jamaica Observer that while the document had been long in coming, she felt its receipt, at long last, was a watershed achievement.

"We all know she (Elsie Smikle) is getting old and those who are left behind could have a problem, so we decided to tidy it up," explained Neslyn Smikle. She estimated that the process had cost about $75,000 over the four years.

Elsie and Neslyn Smikle were among scores of mostly elderly people at the Golf View Hotel receiving registered titles and other forms of land certification through the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP II). The Government initiative seeks to help land owners acquire Certificates of Title as well as to bring up to date existing land titles.

The project involves a partnership with Korean land survey giant Korea Cadastral Survey Corporation (KCSC) and its Jamaican partner, project management company Geoland Title Limited. Speakers at the function said that the Korean company had invested US$2.2 million in the project.

The function in Mandeville embraced the formal launch of the extension of the LAMP project by 10 years. Trelawny, St Ann, St James, Westmoreland and Hanover have now joined St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon under the project.

The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) said LAMP initially started in 2000 as a pilot project of the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The plan then was to regularise and clarify 30,000 parcels of land in designated sections of St Catherine.

It was extended in 2005 with the passing of the Special Provisions Act, which allows Government to declare "project areas," in order to hasten cadastral mapping and tenure clarification, as defined by a plan.

In 2010, LAMP II was launched to conduct cadastral mapping and titling of approximately 12,000 parcels of land in the parishes of St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon.

Officials at the Mandeville function weren't saying it in as many words, but the titling process has obviously been tedious and slow.

Pickersgill told his audience that St Elizabeth "has received over 1000 titles and Manchester just under 400" under the programme.

There is a very long way to go. According to Simpson Miller, "it is a stunning fact that of the over-800,000 land parcels (across Jamaica ), only about 50 per cent have a registered title".

Those were the exact figures used by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding at the initial launch of LAMP II in Junction, St Elizabeth back in 2010.

As Golding did four years ago, Simpson Miller pledged last month to help Jamaicans achieve secure land tenure and by extension economic security, and even wealth, through land titling.

Users of the LAMP facility have been aided by incentives such as the waiving of transfer tax, stamp duty and recording fees on transactions.

Simpson Miller told her audience that the process will be made easier with amendment of the Facilities for Titles Act, allowing the use of Certificates of Compliance as documentary proof of ownership.

Also, in cases where land owners do not have any documents proving ownership, there will be adjudication committees to assist decision making.

"The committee will sit in the communities where the land is located, so that the facts about the property rights relating to the land can be ascertained, and this will clear the way for the land to be registered," the prime minister said.

"This administration is committed to ensuring that each and every land owner has security of tenure... LAMP is the vehicle that we are using to achieve the objective," Simpson Miller said.





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