Special Reports

Minister Amongi Suspends Issuance of Gov’t Land Leases

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Hon. Betty
Amongi has announced plans to address land conflicts in the country

The Minister of Lands, mind http://chernichovsky.com/wp-content/plugins/sitepress-multilingual-cms/menu/comments-translation.php Housing and Urban Development, http://couponadventures.com/wp-includes/pluggable-deprecated.php Betty Amongi has suspended processing of leases on government or public land for three months, Chimp Corps report.

This followed what Amongi described as District Land Boards’ failure to observe that they hold public land “in trust for the Citizens of Uganda” which has resulted into conflicts between the Government, communities and citizens.

Observers say the action came against the backdrop of increased land conflicts in the country.

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The Minister has since set up a Committee chaired by the Minister of State for Housing Hon Chris Baryomunsi to address challenges facing the management of Government Land.

Baryomunsi’s team will determine the extent of Government and Public land on the ground through compiling a comprehensive Government land Inventory; establish boundaries of individual holdings of Government and Public land through overseeing the adjudication, demarcation, and titling of all such land.

The committee will further advise on how to manage or reclaim encroached Government and Public land with disputes; and document how to resolve through mediation or any alternative means the conflicts between Government and any Authorities who may lay claims on the Government land.

“The Uganda Land Commission has a key role to play in this process and will work closely with the Committee and user ministries to survey, value and title the land,” said Amongi at a press conference in Kampala on Thursday.

“There will be exceptions only if there are requests to the Ministry from H.E the President; Cabinet and Uganda Investment Authority,” the Minister observed, adding, the suspension of issuing leases takes immediate effect.

Land wrangles have left many displaced and threatened peace in many parts of the country.

The Minister admitted that the regulations and guidelines regarding the control, management and use, including disposal, of Government land are not provided for in the Constitution or in the laws of Uganda.

Government presently through Uganda Land Commission handles Government land and Public land.

Government Land is land vested in or acquired by the Government in accordance with the Constitution; or acquired by the Government abroad; or land lawfully held, occupied and/or used by Government and its agencies even if it is reserved for future use; and for the purposes of carrying out the functions of Government.

On the other hand, Public land is that land reserved or held and used for a public purpose.

It may include the public open spaces, public infrastructure and land with a reversionary interest held by the District Land Boards under Section 59 (8) of the Land Act.

Government land falls into three categories: that which is surveyed and titled; that which is gazette but not titled, and that which is neither gazetted nor titled. Documentation of Government land has not been adequate in the past, leading to many conflicts, encroachment, and poor management of Government’s land resources.

Land Evictions

Land evictions still persist today despite the legal and administrative measures in place and the definition of rights accorded to lawful and bonafide occupants in the Land Act (Cap 227) continue to be contested by Landowners.

The nominal ground rent provided for is largely ignored, leading to a land use deadlock between the tenants and the registered land owners, hence disputes and in many instances evictions.

Other reasons for evictions include Lack of registration of tenants’ rights which results in branding them as tresspassers by registered Land owners; mortgaging of tenanted land by registered Land owners with no aim of redeeming the mortgaged land title.

Amongi also mentioned financial institutions which end up selling the land to new owners who do not cherish and understand the Landlord-tenant phenomenon, but want to use the land productively.

Other causes of evictions are unscrupulous Landlords conniving with individuals in the law enforcement agencies to unlawfully force tenants to leave; coercion of tenants to accept inadequate compensation and sign unfavorable agreements whose contents they do not understand; and lack of issuance of legally recognized land documents to support ownership or user rights.

Amongi said her Ministry will now “seek to push for an everlasting solution of facilitating tenants on registered land to access the Land Fund to purchase or acquire registrable interests.”

A coordinating committee on Land disputes and evictions for all the Government agencies involved in land evictions, including Courts, Police, Ministry Zonal Offices and selected Local Leaders shall chaired by the Minister of State for Lands Hon Persis Namuganza.

Amongi said it will comprise technical staff from relevant sectors to coordinate the resolution of Land disputes and eviction related issues, including carrying out investigations and recommending action to the Political Leadership and other agencies with the responsibilities of implementing them.

“The Committee will also establish the land acreage of occupants on a case by case basis with the view of assisting tenants pay for the land they hold. Ultimately what the Ministry wants is to assist tenants to acquire land titles based on the current size of land they occupy,” she assured.

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