UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina has come out to back the proposed amendments in the land law that will empower government to compulsorily acquire private property for public projects.
Government claims that the law review seeks to do away with saboteurs that reject compensation offered for their land and cause delays in projects.
The proposed amendment of Article 26 of the 1995 constitution states: “Where the owner of property objects to the compensation awarded under the law made under clause (2) (b), the government or Local government will deposit with court for the property owner the compensation awarded for the property and the government shall take possession of the property pending determination by court of any dispute relating to compensation.”
But the opposition, civil society and some experts in land administration have since opposed the proposal strongly, saying it suppress ordinary citizens and facilitate land grabbing.
When asked to comment on the proposed amendment on Tuesday at a UNRA press briefing, Kagina said: “Compensation is still a challenge and I think that the amendments that will come will help us to do these infrastructure projects faster.”
“I really hope that these amendments to the law will be supported so that we can give infrastructure to the public,” she added.
Kagina said problems relating to land compensation involved; land disputes, rejection of values determined by the Chief Government Valuer as well as delayed disbursement of funds meant for compensation.
As a result, these have stalled construction of roads including the Northern Bypass and Kampala – Entebbe Expressway.
The 49.5 kilometer long Kampala – Entebbe Expressway in particular which was commenced in December 2012 is still not complete 5 years later due to delayed acquisition of land.
Each time a road project is delayed by such factors when the contractor has already been procured, UNRA incurs additional costs for idle equipment.
Last week, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Betty Amongi said that the Land Acquisition Bill was to enable government to timely meet its development targets.
The Minister said that government loses more than USD97m each year as a result of delayed implementation of projects