New zonal office to ease land acquisition processes

Tuesday August 20 2019

Dorcas Okalany, permanent secretary Ministry of

Dorcas Okalany, permanent secretary Ministry of Lands and Uganda National Roads Authority executive director Allen Kagina interact with staff during the launch of the sub ministerial land zonal office recently. PHOTO BY CHRISTINE KASEMIIRE 

By Christine Kasemiire

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has opened a sub ministerial land zonal office to facilitate land acquisition processes.

The office, expected to be manned by more than 100 employees will only deal in UNRA mandated responsibilities such as land compensation and deed plans among others.

According to Mr Samuel Muhoozi, director roads and bridges development, UNRA, government is still holding onto 5,000 land titles dating back to 1988 acquired during road construction projects.
As government offices shift responsibility, the backlog moves along with them.

When UNRA acquires part of a Project Affected Person (PAP)’s land, it takes the land title for adjustment and apportions the land to portray the reform.

UNRA from the division creates a deed plan, showing the affected land and the remaining land which belongs to the PAP. The deed plans are then given to Ministry of Lands which is mandated to disburse land titles.

How it will work
UNRA will collaborate with Lands Ministry officials to ensure the land acquisition and compensation processes are undertaken with ease and haste.

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“We have staff from Ministry of Lands that have been attached to UNRA to work with us. So whatever we do here will be accepted by Ministry of Lands,” he said.

Ms Dorcas Okalany, permanent secretary Ministry of Lands opened doors to collaboration between the sub ministerial zonal office (MZO) and 21 countrywide ministerial zonal offices to ensure quicker work turnaround time.

“I am going to write a letter to all my 21 MZOs informing them that we have created a sub MZO in UNRA and they should work closely, where you fail you comeback and report,” she advised highlighting some of them including Wakiso, Moroto, Gulu and the upcoming Tororo MZO.

She committed the ministry to providing land titles in a week if all processes by UNRA are done efficiently.

Clearing backlog
Mr Muhoozi has given three months to clear and forward all the 5,000 land title backlog to Ministry of Lands.

Land compensation delays mastermind various ripple effects that eventually affect the public. Delays in compensation propelled by absentee landlords or high compensation values means projects stall.

“UNRA must move away from the era where we pay interest especially claims because the contractor has no access to site,” Ms Allen Kagina, executive director UNRA remarked.
When contractors set up on a site but fail to start working because of lack of land, government through the tax payers’ money pays for such delays.

In 2017, lands, housing and urban development minister, Betty Amongi revealed that $97m (Shs359b) was paid as fines to contractors because of idle machinery on delayed projects.

Policies underway
Government is also working on numerous bills that are envisaged to curtail land associated challenges in the country.

For instance, the valuation bill, land conflict resolution policy to resolve land conflicts, land acquisition bill and the national infrastructure corridors.

“We want in the future, UNRA, electricity transmission, communication industry, all these infrastructures to go through a single corridors which serve the whole country,” Ms Okalany expressed.

The national physical development plan indicates the infrastructure corridors which are recommended to bundle all utility infrastructure for easy construction and maintenance.
The corridors are based on a proposed expressway network through, Mbarara, Mbale, Gulu and Hoima.

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