The European Union (EU) has said they support President Yoweri Museveni’s stand on the planned amendment of the land law because there is need for a serious regulation to govern land use and acquisition.
Speaking during a courtesy call to Ministry of Works and Transport on Tuesday, the new EU Head of Delegation, Mr Attilio Pacifici, said he is irritated that the cost of constructing the Northern Bypass doubled since land owners inflated the amount of money they were supposed to get.
“I think what the President [Museveni] is doing to sensitise people is very important. There is need for a strong law to allow government acquires land for projects of national strategic importance,” he said.
He said such a law would not provide room for discussions with land owners because it caters for adequate compensation and where some of the land is not utilized, it reverts to the owner because most times, its value appreciates when the project is complete.
The ambassador, who is a month old in the Kampala office, was paying a courtesy call to ministry officials to evaluate projects that are funded by the EU.
The proposal to amend Article 26 of the 1995 Constitution to allow government take over private land before compensation has met opposition from some members of the civil society, church leaders, Members of Parliament, ordinary people and a section of politicians.
The critics of the plan argue that if land is acquired before compensation, owners may not get proportionate payment from the government.
President Museveni says amending the article is not intended to steal people’s land but to hasten government projects that have been stalling as a result of court cases arising from compensation disputes.
Subsequently, President Museveni embarked on a countrywide tour to explain the plan to Ugandans on various radio stations.
EU funds among other projects, the Masaka--Mbarara--Katuna, Mbarara bypass, the Kampala-Jinja Expressway and the Southern bypass.
Ms Monica Ntege Azuba, the Transport minister said the EU has also earmarked funds for the Lake Victoria Transport System specifically to improve infrastructure in Port Bell as well as rehabilitation of the Tororo-Gulu Railway line.
“We appreciate your courtesy call. It is very rare that we get visitors who come to give us support where we find challenges,” she said.