Dr Ebenezer Ankomah Gyamerah, a Surveyor and Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), has called for the integration of recognised professional surveyors into the preparation of cadastre plans to ensure quality work.
That would help to weed out quack surveyors from the industry and mitigate the incidence of encroachments, floods, and litigations among other challenges, he said.
Cadastre is the systematic recording of property boundaries for an individual or an entity.
Act 162 of the Survey Act (Legislative Instrument 1444) authorises only licensed and official (government) surveyors to conduct cadastre surveying in Ghana.
However, there are barely 200 licensed surveyors in the country and for that reason, most of the cadastre surveying works are conducted by professional surveyors (accredited but not licensed) and endorsed by the licensed and official surveyors.
The cadastre plan documents only capture the identities of the licensed and official surveyors without the professional surveyors.
Dr Gyamerah observed that the situation had given rise to the infiltration of fake surveyors in the industry who were engaged in unethical conduct while some professional surveyors also misconducted themselves because they felt they were not liable.
He said due to the heavy workload, the licensed surveyors barely ran any thorough checks before they approved a cadastre plan document.
“When you work, somebody must sign it but you are not identified. If you make a mistake, you can deny doing the work and there is nothing they can do to you,” Dr Gyamerah said.
“So, that is the problem in the land administration sector where roads, Ramsar sites, rail lines and water courses are demarcated by supposed surveyors for people to build there.”
On Thursday, October 20, 2022, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo served notice of the government’s readiness to embark on an exercise to reclaim all encroached public lands across the country.
Dr Gyamerah, however, asrgued that it was out of place to blame and punish the encroachers alone because many of them were just victims of bad surveyors.
“Some chiefs are also confused; they do not know who a proper surveyor is. So, they contract any surveyor….Why do you blame the encroacher, he probably didn’t even know the land is for the State,” he said.
Dr Gyamerah, also the Chief Executive Officer of Gyam Engineering Company, said it was time to task professional surveyors to do the field work with their unique identifications written conspicuously on the site plan.
“If their details are quoted on the plan and there is a problem in court, they can easily be identified, and the necessary sanctions will be applied,” he said.
“It will put fear in the professional surveyors. Because if we determine you have a bad track record, you cannot progress to become a licensed surveyor.”
Until the integration was done, Dr Gyamerah appealed to licensed surveyors to halt endorsements of all cadastre plans.
Additionally, he called for a strict licensing regime for professional surveyors, including the revocation of accreditation, to keep them in check.
“If this is not done, we will experience more flooding than we are seeing because people are still acquiring lands and building due to expensive rent….,” he said.
He called for a model, including a regular licensure examination, to automatically license surveyors to shore up the numbers in the system.