Wednesday February 13 2013

The national land policy will strengthen existing land laws

By Daudi Migereko

Cabinet chaired by President Museveni on February 7, approved the national land policy for Uganda. This policy will provide a framework on how land will be managed and used in Uganda for the next 30 years.
The land policy seeks to introduce fundamental reforms, paving the way for the resolution of the country’s land problems.

It provides a basis and further strengthens the already existing land laws on issues such as illegal evictions, inadequate land use planning, land fragmentation, destruction of ecological systems, encroachment of private and government land, land conflicts and injustices, informal settlements and the poor land information management.

The approval also enhances land tenure security of land owners and land users in a fair and just manner, as well as placing emphasis on optimising land use productivity to ensure food security for the citizens of this nation and for export.

Tackling these problems will stabilise the economy and curb the numerous land conflicts, thus enhancing the land sector’s contribution to the economy.

The policy will also support and harness the spontaneous urbanisation to ensure that the urban development process is executed in a planned and orderly manner, as well as avoiding scenarios such as real estates development encroaching on rural agricultural, industrial and ecologically sensitive lands.

The approved land policy promotes land use rationalisation and it allows Ugandans to own land without any prescribed ceilings, through a well regulated land market and a land information management system. A monitoring mechanism is provided for to ensure that those who acquire the large pieces of land utilise it for productive purposes.

There is also a computerised land information system. The main objective of this system is to ensure that the following is achieved:
Improvement in internal efficiency of the Land Registry; reduction in the time it takes to register transactions; availability of an online facility for courts, banks and mortgage finance institutions to access and pay for land information; and enhancement of the revenue generation and collection by the Land sector to Uganda Revenue Authority and the government.

The advantages of computerisation include:
• Increased responsiveness to the needs and demands of the citizens and business clients.
• Reduction and elimination of backdoor transactions, forgeries and graft.
• Efficient and speedy registration of transactions.
• Elimination of the problems associated with missing land records.
• Availability of online access to the information in the Registry and reduced interfacing with the public which encourages soliciting for unofficial fees.
• Availability of special online access to courts, banks and mortgage finance institutions.

Though the national land policy has been discussed and agreed to by a broad spectrum of Ugandans and land sector stakeholders, the Lands Ministry will now ensure that awareness of the contents of the approved version is done for ownership and understanding.

I, therefore, call upon fellow Ugandans to prepare and join hands as we create awareness and implement Uganda’s first national land policy to be able to attain a better, transformed and productive country.

Mr Migereko is the Minister for Lands, Housing & Urban Development.