Inside new govt plan to end land evictions

Wednesday January 13 2021
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Locals who were evicted from Apaa land in West Nile set up temporary structures at Juka Trading Centre in 2019. Government has unveiled measures intended to lessen or end the possibilities of land evictions. PHOTO/CISSY MAKUMBI .

By Arthur Arnold Wadero

Government has through the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Betty Kamya, unveiled measures intended to lessen or end the possibilities of land evictions.

Ms Kamya highlighted that the major focus will be placed on closing the loopholes that trigger land evictions. Among the gaps to be fixed will be to reduce the possibilities of issuing multiple land titles through the amendment of the land law.

The proposals seeks to end loopholes exploited by family members who according to the minister is the major cause of land wrangles and evictions.

“I want people to understand that land evictions emanate principally from family members who sell land behind the rest of the family members,” Ms Kamya said.

“They go through legal process by reporting to police and announce in the national gazette and they are issued with a ‘special title’,” she added.

The proposed solutions will, among others, place a heavier burden on the buyer to get secure full consent from all affected persons attached to the land to be bought.  “Before you buy land, you should do locus and speak to the people on the land. And if it is a family land, hold family meetings with minutes so that you generate consensus from family members,” she added. 

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Ms Kamya also warned that the buyers would not be allowed to evict bibanja owners either.  “So even if you buy land, you cannot evict the Kibanja owner off the land because he [or she] is a bonafide owner of the land,” she said.

In the same way, the buyer is not allowed to evict bonafide occupant off the land as well.  A bonafide occupant is someone who occupied the land for 12 straight years before the 1995 Constitution was amended and came into effect.

“So they have inheritable rights on their land. When you buy land and get a title, you should know that there is someone with whom you share interests on that land,” Ms Kamya said.

“The ministry is, therefore, encouraging bibanja owners and bonafide occupants to register their interests on the land with the ministry…,” she added.

Ms Kamya disclosed that her ministry is finalising the said proposals to Cabinet and they will inform on the next course of action.

Besides the amendments, the ministry intends to intensify sensitisation about the existing provisions. This would be done through Resident District Commissioners (RDC), police and local authorities like the LCI.

“Even if you have to evict someone from land, you have to fulfil the process which includes receiving a court order issued to a bailiff authorised by the Inspector General of Police ...,”  Ms Kamya explained.

The proposals
The directives, according to the minister, include conducting the eviction between 8am to 6pm on working days between Monday to Friday with exception of weekends and public holidays.

“You must also give the evictee at least 90 days before the eviction. The bailiff has to prove that he has the capacity to hold/store stuff for the evictee for at least two weeks after eviction in case the evictee does get where to go,” Ms Kamya said.
 awadero@ug.nationmedia.com

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