End to 'Plot X' problems
By Azaraimy HH & Hj Minor Absah

The Ministry of Development yesterday announced that His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented for the explanation regarding the issue of ownership of private properties that are linked to reserve access roads and district roads.

Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Development, revealed this during the launching ceremony of the Brunei Darussalam Street Directory 2008, yesterday.

Reserve access roads, which are also known technically as 'Plot X', comprise of private lands in which a portion has been utilised by the government for access roads including reserved lands for road enlargements and river reserves.

According to new rules, affected land owners will now be allowed to develop their land bringing an end to many landowners' complaints that they were not allowed to develop properties categorised as 'Plot X'.

The provision of district roads that has been provided has also enabled private lands to be categorised as 'Plot X' during the demarcation process. Currently, private lands that are involved (in this matter) have been provided with separate land grants but are prohibited from developing the area.

The manner of settlement that will be used for personal land ownership, depending on the location and area of the property, are as follows:

Permitted for renovation or incorporation; or

Permitted for reimbursement by compensation; or

Permitted to be replaced with land.

Regarding the issue of the settlement of private land ownership that is involved with reserve access roads or 'Plot X' and district roads, problems of land ownership experienced by registered owners, which are currently utilised as access roads, will soon be resolved as follows:

Affected land owners will be permitted to develop their land.

With the provision of access roads, affected lands will be optimally developed; and facilities will be provided to affected landowners for applications of land replacement and land renovations.

This settlement constitutes part of the steps taken by the Ministry of Development to implement a more efficient and optimal land development as well as for a more effective management of land ownership.

The Ministry of Development, through the Land Department, will be issuing the settlement guidelines soon.

Later, in an interview, Acting Commissioner of Land, Awg Alimin bin Hj Kalong, said, "The settlement of private lands that are involved with access roads and district roads is one of the efforts by the government towards ensuring a more structured and optimal system of land usage. This settlement is hoped to overcome the problems faced by affected landowners, in particular to permit affected lands to be developed.

"For this purpose, there are three main factors that will be utilised, firstly, through renovation or reconstitution. This is for private land that borders government land.

"Secondly, as reimbursement by compensation for land with an area of less than 0.167 acres depending on lands that cannot be renovated or reincorporated.

"Thirdly, as land replacement for private land with an area of 0.167 acres or more.

"The explanation according to the factors that I have mentioned will depend on a recommendation of a comprehensive assessment on a particular plot of land. For the time being, basic information regarding the affected lands, such as the area of land involved, the areas and owners' information are already in the Land Department's records.

"However, the information is not enough to identify which factor is appropriate for each category of land. This can only be done after assessments have been made on the affected lands. From the results of this assessment itself, the Land Department will be able to identify the amount of land that can be renovated, the amount of reimbursement and the precise amount required for land replacement," he said.

"I expect this assessment to be carried out over a six-month period and I hope that we can inform the affected landowners regarding the status and type of settlement appropriate in respective cases.

"It is only after this that other processes can be carried out such as preparing the reimbursement funds, the renovation, re-incorporation as well as land replacement," he added.

He called for patience and cooperation from the public as the Land Department sets out to complete the process. - Borneo Bulletin (29th August 2008)