Statistics show that a high percentage of land owners in Jamaica are without registered titles for their holdings.
This situation can have serious implications, as lack of security of tenure will affect the personal, social, economic, psychological and emotional well-being of persons.
It is against this background that the Government of Jamaica, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), started a pilot project in St. Catherine under the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) in 2000, a programme which assists persons to get their titles at minimal cost.
“Currently LAMP is fully operational in eastern and central Jamaica. We are operating in St. Catherine, with the exception being Portmore and its environs. We operate in St. Thomas, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Mary, St. Ann, Portland, and St. Elizabeth. There are field officers where we visit parishes, usually at least once weekly, in St. James, Westmoreland, Trelawny and Hanover – locations which have recently been declared LAMP project areas,” Project Director for LAMP, Ms. Lisa Campbell, tells JIS News in an interview.
She explains that the aim of LAMP is to assist Jamaicans who own or occupy lands without registered titles, to acquire these documentsfor their holdings.
Ms. Campbell notes that there is a cost attached to the provision of the service, but it is significantly reduced, because a lot of the government duties for processing applications are waived under LAMP. She points out that under the progamme, the unimproved value of the land is used to calculate the fees.
Through LAMP, just over 3,000 persons have been assisted to acquire titles for their holdings to date, an amount Ms. Campbell admits is lower than the project administrators were expecting, with the parish of St. Catherine benefitting the most.
“St. Catherine has benefitted the most, simply because when the programme began with funding from the IDB, the loan funding paid for surveys in St. Catherine. Since that portion of the programme has ended, when clients come to us now, they have to have their lands surveyed before we can assist them, because we just do not have any surveying capacity,” Ms. Campbell explains.
She points out that in the St. Elizabeth project area and some parts of Manchester and Clarendon, LAMP clients have benefitted from a tripartite partnership forged between the Government, the Korea Cadastral Survey Corporation and its Jamaican partner, Geoland Title Limited.
Meanwhile, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, under whose ministry the LAMP project falls, has described obtaining a land title as similar to earning a diploma on graduation.
Speaking at a recent LAMP title handing over ceremony, held at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School, he said a diploma represents years of learning, sweat and tears and sometimes the sweat and tears of parents and teachers. “Similarly, a land title can also be regarded as a simple piece of paper, but it represents your sweat, tears and hard earned money invested in your own little piece of the rock, Jamaica,” he told the beneficiaries.
He said acquiring a registered title for one’s land holding transforms it into a legacy that can be passed on for generations.
The Minister explained that land acquisition is one of the best ways to empower people to improve themselves, build better homes, communities and ultimately a better nation, adding that the government is serious about ensuring security of tenure for ordinary Jamaicans.
Mr. Pickersgill emphasised that an efficient system of land administration is essential to building a strong economy, and ensuring that social justice is realised for all. He said this is a goal that the current government will not lose sight of, especially against the background of the nation celebrating its 50th year of independence.
Beneficiary of LAMP, Errol Sloley, on receipt of his land title, told JIS News that the programme is a blessing for the less fortunate in the society.
Mr. Sloley is encouraging all persons without a legitimate title for their land holding, to seek out and utilise the services of LAMP.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter