Sabah on track to clear land title backlog by next year

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Land and Survey Department will try to settle outstanding land grant applications by next year, the state assembly heard.

Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Nizam Abu Bakar Titingan (pic) said that since 2015, the department managed to gradually reduce the outstanding applications by over 86% – from 280,695 cases to 37,857 as of Oct 31.

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“We hope to (clear all) these cases by 2023,” he said during the question-and-answer session at the assembly sitting here on Wednesday (Nov 30).

He said that over the years, the large number of cases solved were due to several initiatives including the Sabah Native Land Services Programme (Pantas), the use of the global navigation satellite system to measure the plots, and the field-to-finish survey process.

Nizam said for land titles applied for via Pantas, applications would take around 12 months to process while applications made through other channels could take up to 24 months.

He said 27,572 grants involving 42,429 ha of land had been approved through Pantas from last year up to Oct 31 this year.

He added that native land title ownership had also increased.

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Nizam said other measures taken to speed up the processing of applications included getting help from private surveyors to reduce dependency on government personnel.

“Through our programmes, we found that issues like not being able to contact land applicants, hard to reach areas, and objections to applications, among others, had slowed our work,” he said.

Earlier, the assembly was told how some villagers had to wait for 30 years or more just to get titles to land that they had lived on for generations.