When you want to transact business related to land in Uganda, you must take extra care. It is imperative that you exercise due diligence. Simply take all necessary precautions before you part with your much-needed cash because there are many ‘vultures’ waiting to fleece you.
When it comes to some real estate dealers, things are even worse.
Early this year, the Uganda Police Force registered more than 26 cases of land-related fraud where more than Shs320 million was lost to Hossana Real Estate Ltd. When we deliberately released this information to the public, in only one week, a couple of other people came to register their complaints with the police. In only two weeks, we found that close to Shs700 million had been lost to this real estate company.
There are three key lessons to learn from this experience. First, it is wrong to pay all your money before you are sure about the existence of the land you are purchasing and is encumbrance free.
Second, it is imperative to know both the two justice systems that would be implored in case of any abuse from those you are purchasing the land. Third, carrying out search with the Land ministry as well as physical search are very important and thereafter, immediately, take physical possession.
Unfortunately, all the victims of Hossana Real Estate Ltd told a similar story: They were taken to one estate, shown plots of land, were convinced to pay, wrote and signed agreements.
Later, they discovered that these plots were either non-existent or were long sold by the same dealers to other people! Promises were made to allocate them new plots, time and money were lost and eventually hope of ever getting these plots was also lost. Many victims were left in the cold.
Who will quantify the loss these people are incurring in terms of money directly paid to fraudsters as well as money and time indirectly lost as they continue seeking justice? How about if we woke up and found that the company has closed shop?
Stringent laws must be enacted to protect the public against real estate dealers in Uganda.
Importantly, all must be registered and possibly a demand be made for them to deposit a specified amount of money with the central bank so that no one loses money when the real estate dealers abruptly close shop.
SSP Kayima is Political Commissar/PRO Land Police Protection Unit