Nationwide Ground Survey Could Resolve Many Land Conflicts

BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – Amid conflicts between multiple counties within Liberia over boundary divisions, a cartographer at the Liberia Land Authority is calling for a nationwide ground survey of all boundary lines across the country.

Nathaniel K. Cisco, the assistant director of the Cartographic Division at the Liberia Land Authority, said such a survey would bring many conflicts to an end.

In October 2018, chiefs in Margibi’s fifth electoral district and Grand Bassa’s second electoral district were hotly disputing the boundaries of the two counties in a situation that prompted threats of “traditional warfare.”

Last week, county leaders from River Cess and Sinoe also agreed to a resolution aimed at settling a longstanding border land dispute between the two counties.

Cisco said in 1962, a committee was established by former Liberian President Williams V. S. Tubman to use the original map of Liberia to establish boundary lines between the counties due to the many land disputes.

The committee came up with a report establishing four additional counties, namely Bong, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, and Nimba. Cisco said the report was supposed to minimize future conflicts, although it came with stipulations.

“In that report, it was recommended that the actual survey should have been done on the ground, which we have not done – and that is paramount to all the confusions because if those lines were opened, by this time, each county will know their boundary on the ground,” he added.

He noted that without such on-the-ground survey, it makes it difficult to determine boundaries that are not specified to be partitioned by rivers.

Cisco said many land conflicts across the country need to be resolved using modern technologies, such as GPS navigation systems. Cisco could not estimate how much it would cost to do such a survey, but he acknowledged it would be expensive and suggested that the Liberia Land Authority be placed in charge of such a project.

The Liberia Peacebuilding Office recently produce a map of conflicts that shows land disputes that could threaten Liberia’s post-war peace. The nationwide conflict mapping exercise identified three key conflict drivers which present the most imminent threat to national peace and stability in Liberia: land or property, corruption, and boundary disputes.

It noted that multiple land disputes had been resolved through the Alternative Dispute Resolutions conducted by the former Liberia Land Commission and the Liberia Peacebuilding Office.

The survey also revealed that although Liberia has stabilized remarkably since 2005, land disputes have emerged as a major threat and it is negatively impacting sustainable development.

The executive director of the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, Edward Mulbah, told The Bush Chicken that the land dispute dialogues being conducted by his agency aim to harmonize contested land boundaries and reduce conflicts in five counties, including Lofa, Gbarpolu, Bong, Sinoe, and River Cess.

“These counties are challenged by continuous tensions related to land/boundary ownership, which oftentimes negatively impact relationships between and among citizens and residents in the counties,” he said.

Featured photo courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress


Sampson David

Sampson G. David is a journalist with over eight years of experience. He is a deputy manager at the Diahn-Blae Community Radio Station, a correspondent of the Liberia Broadcasting System, and a sophomore student at Starz College of Science and Technology, studying Management Information Systems.

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