Land Board ends ROCKSTAR status of Commissioner of Lands
The establishment of the Land Board had ended rock-star status of the Commissioner of Lands whom everybody wanted to know and even visited his home after work. And the former chairman of the Land Board, Alfred Soaki, even described the Commissioner of Lands as somebody who was even more famous than “your MP (Member of Parliament”.
Soaki made the statement this week at the end of his tenure and he admitted that the establishment of the Land Board has seen many changes and one of them is the decision now vested on the Board and not an individual as had been in the past.
Soaki was a one-time commissioner and had been the chair of the Land Board for the past two years. The Land Board was established by an act of Parliament in 2014 and since then decisions to allocate land is now made by them—and not the COL.
Soaki said the Land Board is the way forward as it ended the one-man decision by the COL.
He recalled that previously as “we all know the law allowed the COL himself to make decisions as he had the supreme power as the guardian, custodian and administrator of all government land.”
Soaki continued: “We look up to the person sometimes as a rock-star and sometimes he was more popular than your MP. It just that he had the supreme power or absolute power under the law to make decisions based on the advice he received from his officers.
“Everybody wanted to know him, all the PSs’ knew him all the ministers knew him, everybody went to his house after working hours and he lived under the stress.”
Additionally, Soaki sated of course a number of people don’t like him as well.
However, he said the establishment of the Land Board has cut down on such accusations against the COL especially on one-man decision.
“Now all of us (Land Board) sitting together – thinking about it seriously. Looking at it, reading it one week prior to the meeting. So we discuss and come up with decisions. The land board is the way to go,” said the former chairman reiterated.
Asked about one of its successes, Soaki said the most of the successes of the board have gone unnoticed but one of them is that the ministry now earns more revenue in land than in the past since the establishment of the Land Board.
He reiterates that the Land Board is independent and makes its decision fairly.
Soaki is replaced by Samantha Tuti who took over her new role this week.