Experts call for property owners’ engagement in land acquisition
To improve timely delivery of infrastructural developments, experts have canvassed effective communication between government and its agencies, property owners and private firms before Right of Way (RoW) acquisitions are enforced.
According to them, such engagement is a critical business process for effective right of way acquisition and operating the facility to be constructed; hence, building external and internal understanding among stakeholders, improving design and management so that activities are integrated into the social, economic and environmental context are of importance.
Speaking at the 5th annual educational conference of the International Right of Way (IRW), chapter 84, Nigeria, the General Manager, External Relations, Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Igo Weli stated that for ideal process, there should be a review of land acquisition, sensitization for landowners and claimants, assess impacted properties/owners and due preparation to process payment summary and amounts negotiated for beneficiaries whose properties have been acquired for developmental projects.
“Right of Way acquisition is the legal possession of land belonging to another for public purposes such as infrastructural development. Some of these acquisitions can be statutory particularly those for government infrastructural development such as highways, public buildings, easement rights for electricity installations, oil and gas facilities (pipelines, flowlines, well-heads).
“There are also instances where private companies acquire Right of Way as access roads to their factories/industries.The party acquiring the land is statutorily bound to pay fair and adequate compensation to owners of the land,” he said. Weli said right of way acquisition process shows that the critical stakeholders in land acquisition are the land owners, acquiring partiesí individuals, groups or organizations that are either affected by the process or have the potentials to impact the process and the service providers such as, land surveyors, agents, government, communities, NGOs and other pressure groups who could delay the process of construction.
He said called for effective, sustained and transparent Stakeholders engagement. On his part, Victor Akujuru of the Department of Estate Management, River State University, Port Harcourt explained that involving ROW organisations in early project as full partners with traditional project development functions of planning, design, environment and utilities are some of the innovations introduced to right of ways acquisitions.
According to him, barriers to ROW delivery include, near absence of development planning, late engagement of ROW specialists in project administration, long chain of command, and lack of personal accountability, Others he stated include, near absence of coordination, unrealistic project timelines and schedules, insufficient or inadequately trained ROW professionals, political dictations and requirements, funding of projects, litigation delays and the Court processes/ ineffective use of technology applications. He added that the federal and state agencies have responsibility for acquiring ROWs for their infrastructural projects especially agencies such as, ministries of transport, communication, power, oil and gas companies, airports among other.
Earlier, the President,International Right of Way Association (IRWA) Chapter 84, Nigeria, Emmanuel Mark disclosed that IRWA is a professional member organisation comprising global infrastructure real estate practitioners. He said since its inception as a non-for-profit-association in 1934 in the USA with over 10,000 Members, IRWA has served professionals who acquire, manage and transfer the land rights needed for building and maintaining energy and transportation infrastructure.
Mark said the theme of the conference; ‘improving stakeholder engagement in right of way acquisition for infrastructural Development’ was picked as theme for its members to know about emerging tool for improving stakeholder communication and see potential conflicts that may occur and how it could be†resolved during right of way acquisition.