Land adjudication to reduce squatting, increase land ownershipWednesday, October 13, 2021
THE National Land Agency, popularly called the Titles Office and headed by new Chief Executive Officer Cheriese Walcott, is moving aggressively to complete the land adjudication process which should increase the ability of Jamaicans to secure titles to land on which their families have lived for over 12 years.
In an update provided on October 8, 2021, the agency outlined, “The Systematic Land Registration (SLR) programme continues. SLR is the methodical and orderly registration of parcels of land in a designated area known as the Systematic Adjudication Area.
They added, “In January 2021, the prime minister...declared several districts as Systematic Adjudication Areas, which are displayed/published in adjudication records in the designated communities as well as published in the media.”
As outlined on its website, the National Land Agency has implemented Systematic Land Registration in order to increase the level of land registration in Jamaica.
The mandate of the Adjudication Services Division of the agency, as outlined, is to assist landowners who have been in open, undisturbed and undisputed possession of their land for twelve years or more, to claim ownership of such land via the Systematic Land Registration Process.”
An earlier study by the then Ministry of Water and Housing identified a total of 754 unplanned settlements and that these communities continue to grow.
The housing ministry's study identified three types of squatting in Jamaica: agricultural, residential, and commercial. These three types accounted for approximately 900,000 squatters. The study also estimated that 20 per cent of Jamaica's population reside in squatter settlements.
The Systematic Land Registration (SLR) programme is successor to the earlier Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) under which almost 2,000 Jamaicans were granted titles to land on which their families have lived.
LAMP was a government initiative which assisted landowners in obtaining certificates of title by providing critical information to help the National Land Agency (NLA) in developing a cadastral map.
The newer SLR is described as the methodical and orderly registration of parcels of land in a designated area known as the Systematic Adjudication Area.
The NLA website outlines, “In January 2021, the prime minister, The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, ON, MP, declared several districts as Systematic Adjudication Areas.
The Adjudication Services Division also acts as secretariat to the adjudication committees established in accordance with Section 9 of The Registration of Titles, Cadastral Mapping and Tenure Clarification (Special Provisions) Act.”
NLA officials told the Jamaica Observer, “The Systematic Land Registration (SLR) programme is still ongoing. What was [already] published is the completion of the Adjudication Record for a specified project area.
“There are more completion records that will be published. SLR is not yet completed so we are unable to give you the total acreage which has been completed under the programme.”
In relation to the total budget for the programme it was outlined, “ This is an ongoing Government of Jamaica policy directive. I am therefore not able to give you a definitive cost [budget], as this is an ongoing part of the operations of the agency which is executed by the Adjudication Services Division.”