1,500 Nakasongola households wait in vain for free land titles

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A man displays a copy of  the old land title. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Noah Mutebi Wanzala, the Nakasongola County MP, said several petitions to the Lands minister, Ms Judith Nabakooba, President Museveni, and Parliament on the matter have failed to yield results.

At least 1,500 households in Nakasongola District are stuck after a government project to issue them with free land titles failed to take off three years after it was launched.

In 2019, the government through the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) embarked on the titles acquisition process for selected households living on land of absentee landlords.

The exercise, which was supposed to be concluded in 2020, came after the government compensated the absentee landlords.

However, residents occupying the estimated 10.8 square miles reportedly continue to face illegal evictions, destruction of property and injustices in land ownership.

The affected communities live in Kalungi, Kalongo, and Lwampanga sub-counties, among other areas.

Mr Noah Mutebi Wanzala, the Nakasongola County MP, said several petitions to the Lands minister, Ms Judith Nabakooba, President Museveni, and Parliament on the matter have failed to yield results.

“We convened community meetings and witnessed the surveying process for the respective land that was surveyed in 2019. We are yet to see the land titles,” Mr Mutebi said on Wednesday.

He said government officials, who were spearheading the project, are silent, an indication that residents may not get the titles any time soon.

A section of tenants attends a sensitization meeting about free land titles at Ddagala village in Kalungi Sub County in Nakasongola District on January 8, 2020.  PHOTO | DAN WANDERA

In a March 17 letter addressed to President Museveni, Mr Mutebi said a team from the Lands ministry mapped and surveyed land in Mayirikiti, Kigejjo, Lwampanga, Junda and Kibanga   villages in 2019 coordinated by the ULC top officials.

The district chairperson, Mr Sam Kigula said more than 80 percent of residents in Nakasongola are squatters on land owned by absentee landlords.

“When we received the Uganda Land Commission bosses in 2019, we thought that the President had finally responded to the cries of the people of Nakasongola. We need a quick follow up on this matter,” he said.

However, Ms Nabakooba said the project is still on course though it has been delayed due to some technical challenges.

“Nakasongola is among the prioritised districts that will benefit from the Land Fund to offset the land ownership challenges, I have visited the district on the invitation of the leaders and appreciate the land challenges. The process to roll out the Land Fund that the government promised will be fulfilled,” the minister said without explaining when the project will start.

Mr Arnold Ssemaganda, a resident of Kigejjo Parish in Kalungi, said he availed all the required details to government surveyors anticipating to get the land titles, but his hopes have faded.

Background

A similar project, which was targeting 2,000 sitting tenants in the neigbouring Kayunga District, also failed to take off since 2017.  Local leaders recently said they had lost hope due to the delays in implementation of the project. Nakasongola leaders say land related conflicts account for more than 80 percent of the cases registered at the police and the other sister administration offices on a daily basis. It is on this basis that the government is pushing for land reforms which they say are aimed at curing rampant evictions in the country. Recently, Ms Nabakooba said the government needed almost Shs47.2 trillion to pay off all landlords across the country so that they can leave sitting tenants to settle peacefully. The minister said ULC currently needs at least Shs150b to settle arrears of a section of landlords who have already negotiated with the government to surrender their land to the sitting tenants.

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