By Mohamed Amara Gando…….

The Director of Housing at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Rasheed Charles Ngaiwee has urged citizens to stop erecting houses without acquiring a Building Permit from the Ministry of Lands. He warned that building without a building permit from the Ministry of Lands is a crime.

Director Ngaiwee said the Ministry has realized that there are so many illegal constructions going on in the country and that they have put measures in place to enforce the housing law.

In an exclusive interview with Beyond Borders on 12 July at the Ministry of Lands in Freetown, Ngaiwee explained that the Ministry is now moving towards affordable housing. He further explained that since the Minister of Lands, Dr Turad Senesie assumed office, his policy mandate is to provide affordable housing, adding that the Minister has made some institutional internal reforms wherein, the Housing and Country Planning are under one directorate.

“Because of the new direction which the Minister has, he decided to put a premium on housing and planning. He decided to separate housing and planning into two directorates. And now we have the housing directorate which deals primarily with affordable housing delivering issues and also development controls or building regulations,” he explained.

Explaining the importance of Building Permit, the Director said the permit is part of the government regulatory framework which requires everyone to have before starting the construction of a house or any other form of a building. He disclosed that a building permit is a clearance obtained from the government to build a house.

Responding to questions regarding the processes and procedures of acquiring building permits, he said his Directorate has implemented policies regarding the processes and procedures in acquiring building permits. He noted that by acquiring building permits, one has to prove to the Ministry the ownership of the land.  “Firstly, you should own a registered document of the land you want to construct on from the Administrator and Registrar General’s Office. Secondly, you should have an architect that will design a building plan for the type of structure you want to erect, attach all these documents and bring them to the Ministry for you to get your building permit,” he stated.

Speaking on the online processes and procedures for acquiring building permits, Ngaiwee revealed that when the Minister of Lands took over the Ministry of Lands, he called on all experts in the Ministry from the various directorates who developed a standard operation procedure which also made provision for people to apply through online process.

“The standard operation procedure outlines every service we deliver; there are processes and procedures which people follow to access delivery service.  One of the processes and procedures is that, when you apply for a building permit, there are two forms; we have both the hard copy and the online form. You can easily access it and ten days after application, the building permit will be given to you.”

“We have been doing a lot of research, we have engaged companies, investors to come and invest in the housing market in Sierra Leone. Our vision is actually to encourage Sierra Leoneans investors to see that they go into local building materials such as hydrophone bricks and other forms of roofing materials.  We have seen a lot of prospects in the use of local building materials in terms of cost effectiveness, the durability of the materials and the environmental friendliness compared to the use of cement or concrete,” he said

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