Land Categorization

In Cameroon, lands are divided into four categories. The possibility and the methods of acquisition of a land depend on the category to which it belongs. This article focuses on one of those four categories, the public property.

Public property is the least known category, or at least the one with which we are least familiar. It is reserved for the direct use of the public or public services. Public property is:
  • inalienable, ie it can not be sold;
  • imprescriptible, that is to say that no matter how long public property is used by a person, he/she cannot own it;
  • unattachable, public property is exempt from seizure ; it cannot be seized by a creditor (since the debtor is not the owner of public property to begin with);
  • not liable to private appropriation: public property is not owned and cannot be owned by anyone, at least as long as it is public property (it can become a state property).

It's a bit redundant, but it's worth recalling the same thing in different terms. Public property can still be temporarily occupied, nothing more.
Public property is divided into two categories: natural public property and artificial public property.

Natural public property

It comprises, as its name indicates, natural things. Natural public property is divided into four sub-properties :
  • coastlands which comprise the sea shore and the banks and estuaries of waterways subject to tidal influence to the highest tide mark, as well as the soil and the sub-soil Of the territorial sea;
  • waterways which comprise navigable or floatable, non-navigable and non-floatable waterways within the limits determined by the high-water level ; lakes, ponds and lagoons within the limits determined by the highest water level; marshland, excluding developed plantations;
  • sub-soil;
  • air space (atmospheric space situated above the territory of the State and the territorial sea).

The artificial public property

It is called artificial because its components are man-made. The artificial public property comprises :
  • motorways ;
  • national and regional highways ;
  • divisional roads and local tracks passable for vehicles;
  • tracks which are not passable for vehicles ;
  • railways ;
  • commercial sea or river ports;
  • military sea or river ports ;
  • all works connected with the Nation’s land, air and sea defence;
  • telephone and telegraph lines and their connected installations;
  • alluvium deposited downstream or upstream of works constructed for general use;
  • public monuments and buildings set up and maintained by the State or other public bodies*, in particular covered and open markets, cemeteries and museums;
  • the concession of traditional chiefdoms and property relating thereto (especially in the regions where the concession of chiefdoms is considered as the joint property of the community).

For more info:
 Ordinance No. 74-2 of 6 July 1974 to establish rules governing State lands.

*The term "public bodies" refers to the State, local communities/councils, State corporations, state-owned enterprises and public service concessionaries.


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