The New Times (Kigali)

4 December 2012

Rwanda: Lands Agency Stranded With Title Deeds

The Rwanda Natural Resource Authority (RNRA) has appealed to the Civil Society Organisations to take the lead in sensitising the general public on the importance of land titles.

While addressing a stakeholders' meeting, the Deputy Director General for Lands and Mapping in RNRA, Eng. Didier Giscard Sagashya, said the population has remained reluctant to pick land tittles, despite repeated calls from the Authority.

According to Sagashya, out of 5.8 million titles from the seven districts where the land reform exercise is complete 2.8 million land titles have been collected.

"The population was committed in registering land, but picking land tittles has been a problem that needs stakeholder's effective contribution so that property owners can value keeping their tittles," Sagashya said.

The districts include; Kirehe, Bugesera, Rwamagana, Kamonyi, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge and Gasabo.

A sum of Rwf1000 is meant to be paid as title deed processing fee, before the land title is issued, but there have been claims that some people can not afford it. This prompted the government through the Ubudehe scheme to waive it for individuals who are classified in category I and 2.

These two categories are citizens considered to be the most vulnerable who are also freely given insurance cover, and according to the Ministry of Local Government, this population represents 22.28 of the total population.

"Irrespective of this, people are not picking their land titles and millions are still with us, something that we do not want to continue," he said.

Early this year, Annie Kairaba, the Coordinator of Land Net Rwanda Chapter, attributed the failure for some land owners to collect their title deeds after registration to fear of either paying tax or lease fees.

Kairaba who is also the Country Director of Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development said that according to her organisation's findings, there was urgent need for the government to intensify sensitisation campaigns to clear the confusion surrounding the issue.

Responding to the concern, Sagashya said that this should not in any case restrict property owners urging that levying land or property tax depends on various factors that include location, size and use of property.

He clarified that land owners in rural areas using their land for farming can only pay lease fee if they do in on land which is more than two hectors. Each hector is charged Rwf 1000 annually. Sagashya added that the fee is mostly paid by people operating in urban centers.

Officials from RNRA, say that only 1 percent of property or land owners pay land lease fee.

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