Govt buys land for Gomba residents

Lands minister Judith Nabakooba addresses affected residents in Kitemu Village, Kanoni Town Council on Tuesday. PHOTO/BRIAN ADAMS KESIIME

What you need to know:

According to Lands minister Judith Nabakooba, the former landlord, Mr Peter Wasswa, was cleared and plans are underway for surveying of the land

It was all jubilation as 400 residents in four villages in Gomba District learnt that the government had paid off their landlord to allow them settle on their bibanja (plots of land).

The land measuring 714 acres is on Block 209 on plots 431,333, 315,307,409 and covers the four villages of Nkwale, Kasaka, Kitemu and Kkome-Nsaasi.

According to Lands minister Judith Nabakooba, the former landlord, Mr Peter Wasswa, was cleared and plans are underway for surveying of the land.

“The government paid him [Wasswa] all his money and he is no longer demanding any single coin. The land is now under full control of the government in the name of Uganda Land Commission (ULC) which will soon bring surveyors to measure the land and do boundary marking,” Ms Nabakooba said while addressing the affected residents on Tuesday

However, the minister did not disclose the amount of money paid.

She explained that the government paid for the entire process and surveying would be free of charge.

Mr WilberForce Rwamiti, the chairperson Kitemu Village, whose house was razed at the height of the land dispute, said he had completely lost hope.

“It was a big setback for me and I am currently renting a room in Kanoni Town where I sleep with my entire family. I am now happy that my land is going to revert to me,” he said.

According to Ms Nabakooba, residents will only be required to pay Busuulu (annually nominal ground rent) because this is a Mailo land and Shs25, 000 for registration to get a Tax Identification Number (TIN).

She further noted that the land map would be pinned at every village for beneficiaries to check for their credentials before land titles are printed.

“The map will indicate the name of the owners, the size of the land and where their land is located. I call upon the local leaders to mobilise people, monitor and supervise the entire exercise as surveyors will be doing their job,” she explained

Ms Nabakooba asked the beneficiaries to cooperate with the technical team from ULC that will be sent on ground to determine the size of the land.

She said those who had already sold off their bibanja to Mr Wasswa are not going to benefit from this arrangement.

Mr Yusuf Kironde, the Kitemu Village chairperson, said the land wrangles started in 2018 and some residents were forced to abandon their bibanja.

“Others reached an understanding with him and he bought some of their Bibanja, some part of their land was taken after promising them land titles,” he noted.

Mr Wasswa, however, did not attend the meeting convened by the minister.

Mr Joel Kyajja Baduuzi, the chairperson of Kanoni Town Council, lauded the minister for her efforts.

Land issues

Land is a sticky issue in many districts. In 2021, government proposed land reforms aimed at curing land grabbing.

Last month, Ms Judith Nabakooba cautioned landlords against evicting tenants. According to the Land Amendment Act, 2010, tenants can resist eviction, especially if they have been paying Busuulu.

Landlords need a court order to evict tenants and must notify them prior but some of these conditions are never followed through.