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JIS News

The National Land Agency (NLA), which brings together the Government’s core land information functions, will during this financial year, undertake a raft of initiatives aimed at improving its services.
Speaking with the JIS, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of the NLA, Mrs. Elizabeth Stair, notes that chief among the initiatives is the implementation of new security features for its Certificate of Titles.
Mrs. Stair informs that “it’s going to be a new paper totally and it’s going to have some security features, some will be obvious to the naked eye and some will not be,” while noting that relevant agencies such as the courts and embassies will be apprized of the changes.
Special security features such as dyes, watermarks, an alpha-numeric denotations, and security threads are embedded in the new paper.
“One of the things we can’t stop is somebody making up a title and what we have found is that people come in to us with their document and they think they have a title and when we look at it we realise that it was not made by us. It doesn’t happen that often. We have a relationship with the fraud squad and they either come to our offices to interview the person or we send the person down to them,” Mrs. Stair explains.
In another initiative being undertaken by the NLA, the 30 year old map of Kingston was re-vamped with the new edition created, which will be publicly unveiled to the public soon.
Steps were also taken by the agency to produce mini maps for the resort towns of Negril and Montego Bay.
“What I know that we are going to be working on, now that we have finished Kingston, we are going to be looking at doing another, area whether its Ocho Rios or Falmouth or Montego Bay, we will be doing a another map,” Mrs. Stair says.
“What we really plan to do is to try and update the whole mapping basis over the next few years. We are also looking at providing some other services at the Land Titles Division to make it easier for our customers to work with us, looking at more computerisation,” she adds.
Another of the Executive Agency’s priorities is improving access to its services which is being done through its regional one-stop shops. Plans are in place to expand the services to other parishes, as also the ‘one stop shop’ in Montego Bay and upon completion, all core divisions of the agency such as the land valuation, land titles, estate management, as well as a limited service for surveys and mapping functions, will be represented there.
“We are working on the ‘one stop shop’ in Montego Bay at the moment because we are doing some expansion to the building, which will make it a much nicer office and more customer friendly. We will, after that, work on the one in Mandeville,” Mrs. Stair notes.
She adds that this facility has improved service for customers in the western region in that “they don’t have to come to Kingston, they don’t pay any extra fee and they get the same turnaround time as Kingston. So yes, I would think that is a good service for them.”
“In the Northern Regional Office in Port Maria, services are provided in Estate Management and Land Valuation, and in the existing Central Region Office in Mandeville, plans are underway to offer services, re: Land Titles and Surveys and Mapping,” the Executive Officer says.
Mrs. Stair also points out that the NLA will be aiming to have its turn-around service times reduced.
“I don’t think there are any serious challenges that we can’t work on. We are always looking to make our turn-around (time) better. A lot of it means that we have to look at, probably, moving more documents to a digital platform because then it makes retrieval easier and makes the whole process of working easier,” the CEO states.
Meanwhile, in terms of challenges, Director of Corporate Legal Services at the NLA, Mrs. Lois Edwards-Bourne explains that with land settlement lots there are two main problems. “One is, right now, getting titles for some parcels that are not yet registered and the other problem is getting titles to the persons for whom we have certificates of titles in office,” Mrs. Edwards-Bourne said.
Currently, there are approximately 7,000 titles at the NLA in the name of the Commissioner of Lands, and another 1,000 titles, which are in the names of persons to whom the lots were given.
“What has happened in some instances, is that, we can’t locate some of those persons for whom we have titles for, both in the name of the Commissioner and in the name of the allottees. Some persons have died, and they (their relatives) have not yet dealt with their estate. So their beneficiaries are not able to access the certificates of titles,” the Director of Corporate Legal Services outlines.
However, Mrs. Edwards-Bourne notes that the NLA has been going into communities to “try and meet with the persons to see if they are there, and just have not yet heard that we need to hand them their certificates of titles.”
“We have done advertisements in the newspapers as well to get persons to come into our offices to collect the titles, and what we have done in terms of the persons who have died is to establish a Probate Unit in the office, where we will meet the application for grants of probate, letters of administration to assist the beneficiaries to get their estates dealt with, and so we can hand the titles to them in the long run,” Mrs. Edwards-Bourne states.
She adds that “if there are persons who have interest in lands, (and) their relatives, maybe, have obtained land under the Land Settlement Scheme and think that, maybe, their title is in the office of the commissioner for them, maybe they can get in touch with us either through the parish offices or at the office at 750-LAND (5263) or 946-LAND (5263).”
The NLA was established under the Public Sector Modernisation Programme of the Government of Jamaica. It brings together land information functions of government under one roof, and includes: Land Titles; Surveys and Mapping; Land Valuation & Estate (Crown Land) Management. This merger enables the government to build on the synergy of these combined functions and create a modern national land (spatial) information system to support sustainable development.