The issuing of title deeds and land ownership remains a huge problem in the Free State. This was declared by Nocawe Mafu, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, on Monday, 30 January, during an oversight visit to assess the progress of a multi-million rand housing project underway at the former hostel dwelling known as Dark City and Silver City in Bloemfontein.Mafu said the committee had grave concerns regarding the backlog of 63 000 title deeds yet to be issued to residents by the Free State Department of Human Settlements. The problem of outstanding title deeds was reportedly an issue across the province.According to Mafu, several residents of allocated houses still did not have land ownership documents in their possession, because “government is struggling to fast track registration of title deeds in the province”. Mafu said closed township registers was one of the factors contributing to the slow pace of the issuing of title deeds. “Land ownership is a challenge in all provinces, mostly because 80% of land is owned by the private sector,” said Mafu.She mentioned that the state had been negotiating with private persons owning vast land to sell that land to the state in order for the government to build houses for people. “Sometimes the state buys land and we then find out that the land is not suitable for building houses.”According to Ntimose Mokhesi, head of the provincial department, some of the challenges crippling the department in reaching its targets included delays in the signing of deeds documents by municipalities, wrongly captured property descriptions and disputes over sites.Mokhesi said only three municipalities, namely Nala, Tswelopele and Setsoto, attended the provincial steering committee meetings which were meant to facilitate and fast-track the registration of title deeds within the province.He said the committee would soon undertake an oversight visit to various projects in the Free State. The main purpose of the visits is to assess the implementation of a comprehensive, integrated human settlement strategy in the province, budget expenditure and performance in meeting service delivery targets set for the 2016-’17 financial year.Progress in the construction of housing for military veterans, the destitute and people with special needs and vulnerable people will also be scrutinised by the committee. The committee is expected to submit its recommendations to the minister of human settlements following the visit.