Survey And Land Registration Authority [Archives:2000/36/Business & Economy]

September 4 2000

The Survey & Land Registration Authority (SREA) is considered one of the important government machinery responsible for preparing, and printing different kinds of political, agricultural, service, geographical and other kind of maps as well as surveying and registering both government and non-government land registrations.
Its Director General, Mr. Abdullah Obaid Al-Fadhli obtained his doctorate from Moscow in 1985 in Technical Knowledge of Survey. Before Unification when he had obtained his MA, he was appointed an engineer at Aden Survey Department. Then he moved to Lahj, Abyan and Hadhramaut provinces in the then southern part of Yemen to become at last Director General. After Unification in 1990, he was appointed Deputy Director for Technical Affairs at the (Unified) Survey Authority in 1990. Then he was appointed Director General of the SREA according to a republican decree.
Mr. Ismail Al-Ghabri of the “Yemen Times” had the following interview with Dr. Al-Fadhli, Director General of (SREA):-

Q: When was the SREA founded?
A: It was founded in 1981 according to Republican Decree No.131 issued in the same year. It has its own independent administration and finance system.

Q: What is the role and duties of the Authority ?
A: Ministries, institutions and companies need different kinds of maps according to their daily needs. Before doing this, we had to establish strong relationships with these parties. The strength of relations was reinforced with the issuance of instructions from the Cabinet prohibiting preparation of any map without consulting the Authority.
The other side is concerned with land registrations. The Ministry of Justice prepares deeds (grants or lease) and ownership of lands and estate documents. The Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) is responsible for large portion of ‘awqaf’ lands (given as mortmain). The Ministry of Construction & Housing is responsible for State lands and estates. From time to time these ministries need lots of maps including those showing different localities in different provinces as part of town planning.
The Authority is divided into two basic parts: the first is the estate registration sector and the second is the technical sector which is responsible for preparation of basic maps for the Republic. Here the old maps prepared by both the former southern and northern parts were revised . It was found out that they lacked technical information. Necessity dictated to divide the tasks of the technical sector into several phases.
During the first phase 1991-1999, a National Geodesic Network (NGN) was formed with the assistance of the French Geographic Institute. The network was extended throughout the Republic.
The second phase was divided into two periods. The first was for creation of an aerial photography depending on old dossiers and documents . We have been provided with modern technology for field survey in form of equipment known as GPS. This equipment now helps in accuracy through satellites. Then it was found essential to arrange a training and qualifying program for engineers of the Authority. We now have a new unit for aerial photography, equipped with modern technology responsible for issuing digital maps. Programs are under way to develop through training Yemeni cadres.
The second period has been specified for preparation of basic maps for the Republic.
As far as estates registration is concerned, it constitutes a basic need of our country as it is of a multi-purpose nature; particularly as far as social stability is concerned. Of course these include development and encouragement of investments.
Regarding estates registration we have, during this year, introduced new measures, despite our limited potentials, with the aim of doing away with previous discrepancies. Now no registration is undertaken with a field visit and estate survey defining the area, location and boundaries of any estate. This system is adopted in most parts of the world.

Q: And how is estate registration going on at the Authority?
A: Virtually registration of estates begun in 1982. In other words, a lot of experience has been accumulated. Through assessing the past works, we have introduced new measures to surmount any discrepancy. For instance now arrangements have been made with the Ministry of Justice not to prepare any deed unless the estate is registered with the Authority. As far as the Ministry of Construction, Housing & Rural Planning is concerned arrangements are under way for restricting the issuance of construction permits. Permits are not to be issued except for those estates already registered with the Authority. These arrangements shall put an end to capturing, manipulating and doing illegal business with lands. On the other hand, laws have defined the fees for estate registration (3% of the estate value) and estate tax. Until now considerable registrations have been undertaken.

Q: After the signing of land and sea borders treaty between Yemen and Saudi Arabia what are your Authority’s plans for preparing an international border map?
A: Preparation of specifications and conditions of demarcation are bound to the historical Treaty. These preparations are ahead. We are waiting for the selection of a company specialized in demarcations and erecting markings along the borders. After this, detailed maps showing the borders between the two countries, signed by the two governments, shall come into existence and then maps showing the border lines could be prepared and published.
For your information, I am a member in the Yemeni-Saudi Arabian Borders Committee.

Q: What kind of maps does the Authority issue?
A: We have a number of different maps including ordinary geographical maps . There are certain detailed and important maps restricted to Authority’s use. Possession of such maps need special permission.

Q: What difficulties do you face at the Authority?
A: As an under-developed country we have ambitions and programs. Execution of these basically depends on funds and qualified cadres. While preparing any program we never ignore the facts and take our potentials into consideration. However, we always concentrate on training programs both inside and abroad in order to attain our aims. So, the difficulties, at present, are summed up in lack of funds and qualified cadres.

Q: What are the organizations and foreign foundations which offer assistance to the Authority?
A: Several international institutions have relations with the Authority. For example, since the creation of the Authority and at early stages there was a technical cooperation with Switzerland which offered equipment and training. We are trying to revive this cooperation.
Another fruitful cooperation was with the British Overseas Survey Board which enabled us to produce 50,000 maps of the northern provinces which are still in use. We are doing our best to see this cooperation also revived.
The Authority also had a cooperation with France; particularly the French Institute of Geography which enabled us to establish the National Geodesic Network. It was really a splendid cooperation which cost about FF54 million, equivalent to US$10 million.

Such cooperation is badly needed and we are endeavoring to see it develop in order to implement our programs.

Q: May you please tell us something about the technical cadre and the present qualifications which you have at the Authority?
A: First we used to have ten branches but during this year we added six more. The later six are still being under the equipping process. The total number of employees is 350 of whom 60-70% are engineers in different grades and specializations. The remainder percentage is attached to the administrative side.

Q: What about a Yemeni atlas?
A: An atlas has many notions. Until this moment no national Yemeni atlas has been prepared. We need huge potentialities for doing it. It covers many activities: economic and social, population density, accurate statistical data and much more information. It takes tens of years for countries to prepare such an atlas.

Q: May you tell us something about your revenues?
A: As aforesaid, we have two sources of revenue. The first is from estates registration fees and the other is estates’ taxes. As of mid of this year about YR. 6 million has been deposited in our Sana’a branch.
I would like to express my gratitude to the “Yemen Times” for being the first newspaper to visit us and acquaint its readers with our activities.