Lands officials issued titles in forests - Nema

Thursday June 14 2018

His point. Nema Executive Director Tom Okurut

His point. Nema Executive Director Tom Okurut (Right) testifies before the land probe in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY EPHRAIM KASOZI 



Ministry of Lands officials are on the spot over fraudulently issuing land titles in wetlands and forest reserves at Namanve and Bukasa in Wakiso District.
It is alleged that the officials created numerous imaginary roads to form the basis for the ministry to issue more than 36 land titles measuring in hectares in Namanve Central Forest Reserve as well as in Bukasa and Kinawataka wetlands.
Evidence presented before the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters indicates that the contested land titles were acquired in 2014 by purported developers targeting compensation as government seeks to implement infrastructural projects.
The targeted projects, according to Dr Tom Okurut, the executive director of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), include Bukasa Port, an electricity transmission line, the Standard Gauge Railway and the Kampala-Jinja Expressway.
Appearing before the Commission, Dr Okurut, without identifying the registered proprietors on the contested areas, said the titles were issued in areas that have to be fully conserved for filtering waste water from other ecological functions from Kampala Industrial Park.
“Different land titles have been issued on wetlands where water is three to four metres below. In fact, it is floating land comprised both in wetland and forest reserves,” he said, adding that they learnt about the contested land titles upon granting approval to the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company for construction of a power line in 2015.
He testified that the titles will be cancelled as per the 2016 Cabinet directive in connection with all titles issued in protected areas after 1995.
Dr Okurut admitted that Nema has never held any interaction with the physical planning authorities to account how the roads were created.
Dr Okurut was responding to land probe summons in connection with investigations into land titles in wetlands. Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, who chairs the land probe, said the concerned officers will be summoned to explain how the titles were issued.