20 February 2013

Rwanda: Residents Protest Reduced Working Hours for Lands Office

The public has protested as unfair, a move by Gasabo Lands Notary to reduce the days allocated to dealing with land transfer issues in the district.

According to the new schedule, the notary shall work six times in a month on land transfers instead of 12 times, at each of all the eight land centres spread across the 15 sectors that make up the district.

Land transfers normally affect a number of people's interests, including land buyers, sellers, banks, architects, contractors, and other developers, according to residents interviewed, justifying their protest over the new arrangement.

In separate interviews, a number of people said the move, which went into effect at the beginning of the year, hurts interests of those seeking the notary's services to seal land deals.

"I bought land over two years ago but have not yet done the transfer of ownership. This is the third time I have come here. If the time has really been reduced, I do not think it will be easy to run personal errands," said Emmanuel Rugira, an evangelist in Kigali.

Architect Eudes Kayumba, the Managing Director of Landmark (R) ltd said this new work plan will not only affect his activities but also his clients.

"It has a time effect since I have to wait until my clients are done with transfers. Delays in getting the permission to start construction projects because it will now be taking more days to get these transfer documents," he said.

When contacted however, Thomas Hakizimana, the Director of Land Bureau at Gasabo district, dismissed the complaints as petty, explaining that the time has been allocated to other land related issues.

Time for other services

"I reduced the times just to deal with my other assignments that include issuance of construction permits, renovation permits as well as solving conflicts arising from land transfers," Hakizimana said.

According to Hakizimana, the backlog of cases had been reduced after successfully handling about 700 land transfer cases between August, 2011-March, 2012.

He says it was time for him to create time for other services since the crucial problem was over.

"Of course this new plan will affect service delivery. This will affect people's time, budget, and many other things but there is no other option since I am only one person serving a big number," Hakizimana noted.

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