17 January 2019

Uganda: 19,000 Kampala Land Titles Can't Be Traced in Registry

Kampala — Only 69,942 out of 89,473 files containing land titles of privately-owned land are captured in the Land Information System (LIS), causing fear of double allocation among owners, the acting Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director has said.

"The problem with this is that the land whose records are not captured could be double-allocated by different leasing or controlling authorities because there is lack of a clear database for the land of each controlling authority with respect to the actual land holding they superintend over," Mr Andrew Kitaka said yesterday at City Hall during a consultative meeting to assess the Ministry of Land's zonal offices.

The LIS, which is also known as the computerisation of the Land Registry, involves electronic capturing of information on land and transactions for purposes of quick retrieval, access and utilisation for effective and efficient delivery of land services.

Mr Kitaka also said land valuation requests from KCCA often take longer than anticipated hence affecting the speed of service delivery, especially land uptakes involving the authority's projects.

To avoid this anomaly, Mr Kitaka told the Lands officials that there ought to be enforcement of the registration to ease on every plotted or titled land in the city irrespective of the controlling authority.

His concerns were reinforced by Nakawa Division mayor Ronald Balimwezo Nsubuga, who said city public land has been grabbed because of lack of details in the land information system.

Disconnect

Mr Balimwezo said there was no relationship between zonal offices and the different land controlling authorities, leading to double allocation of land.

"We have a situation in Kampala where land controlling bodies such as Kampala District Land Board and the Uganda Land Commission have given out gazetted land roads and wetlands to developers in the watch of bodies such as the Ministry of Lands and the National Environment Management Authority," he said.

Mr Balimwezo said such irregularities expose the incompetence of government bodies which are supposed to take charge of both land transactions and developments.

Section 44(b) of the Land Act states that the government or local government shall not lease out or otherwise alienate any natural resource.

During the same meeting, the Minister of state for Housing, Mr Chris Baryomunsi, acknowledged the problem but added that the ministry was handling it.

"The ministry is cognizant of the fact that while more than 80 per cent of land files are already captured in the system, 20 per cent isn't yet but we hope to enter all the files soon. We will be working with all the relevant bodies to ensure that we get everything right," he said.

The Lands ministry, with support from the World Bank, commenced the process of modernising the land registry in 2010 by organising and digitalising all land records.

Mr Baryomunsi said the system works across the 13 ministry zonal offices which the ministry opened in 2013.

The objectives of opening up zonal offices and introduction of the land information system include bringing ministry services closer and eliminating the manual system that is prone to human error and complex information. Others are to detect and eliminate any possibilities of fraudulent practices in the land transaction process and improve the internal efficiency of land administration.

The zonal offices are in Mbarara, Masaka, Wakiso, Mukono, Jinja, Kampala, Lira, Kibaale, Kabarole, Gulu, Arua, Masindi and Mbale districts.

Mr Baryomunsi said the ministry was also in the final stages of opening eight more zones in Mpigi, Luweero, Mityana, Kabale, Rukungiri, Tororo, Moroto and Soroti districts.

However, Mr Baryomunsi said there have been operational challenges in the zonal offices, stagnating processing of land documents.

"These challenges have created performance gaps at all the zonal offices which has necessitated the need for the ministry to undertake the assessment exercise to determine the causes of the poor and deteriorating services and find solutions," he said.

The minister also said the assessment at the offices was aimed at understanding the technical and administrative challenges, document stakeholder proposals on how to improve service delivery and understand their operations.

Fraud

However, Mr Edris Ssempa, a director at the Internal Security Organisation's department of Lands, told the meeting that there was a cartel of middlemen who camp at the zonal offices to con unsuspecting clients.

Mr Ssemba urged the ministry to crack a whip on such elements so as to restore the integrity of the zonal offices.

"Some of these are in Mukono and Wakiso land offices, but there are some land officials who have god fathers and wield a lot of influence as far land matters is concerned and kicking them out is really tricky," he said.

Last year, State House officials raided Wakiso land office and arrested six officials over corruption cases which different clients argued, had stagnated plans to develop their land.

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