Buganda Kingdom has asked the central government to institute a special lands court to deal with land conflicts in the country.
The kingdom premier Charles Peter Mayiga made the remarks on Monday while addressing the Lukiiko (Parliament) session during the reading of the Kingdom’s budget for the financial year 2017/2018 at Bulange.
On the bill tabled in parliament to further amend the 1998 Land Act (as amended), Katikkiro Mayiga said the Kingdom doesn’t oppose infrastructural development since the country badly needs them.
He said a special court should be instituted to ensure that land compensation cases are dealt with expeditiously within 90 days.
“Just like we have the anti-corruption court or deal with election petitions in a specific time frame, the same should be applied to land compensation cases,” he said.
“If the case lasts 10 years or more like is usually the case, the government would lose more money,” he said.
Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana, this past Thursday presented the Bill for its First Reading during a sitting chaired by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 intends to amend Article 26 of the Constitution in accordance with Articles 259 and 262 of the Constitution.
Article 26 of the Constitution provides for the right of persons to own property and how it can be acquired by government.
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 provides for how government can acquire land for infrastructural development.
“The Bill seeks to enable government, or a local government to deposit with court, compensation awarded by the government for any property declared for compulsory acquisition,” said Rukutana.
He said the purpose of the Bill is to resolve the current problem of delayed implementation of government infrastructure and investment projects due to disputes arising out of the compulsory land acquisition process.
The Minister said that delayed government projects has caused significant financial loss to government in penalties paid to road contractors for redundant machinery at construction or project sites as the courts attempt to resolve the disputes.
If the Bill is approved, government or local governments would take possession of the property upon depositing the compensation in court pending determination of the dispute.
Katikkiro Mayiga said his proposal would save government money because if the case isn’t disposed in a specific timeframe, they would still have to pay interest and other costs should they (government) lose the case.
The Katikkiro urged the government to also address the core issues that lead to delays in infrastructural project implementation first, which among others include corruption and collusion of its officials.