Sembabule lifts ban on issuing land titles

Sembabule District headquarters .The district has lifted a year- old ban on issuance of land titles. PHOTO/BRIAN SSENYANGE

What you need to know:

Plans are underway to sensitise members of area land committees and the district land board on their roles.

Sembabule District Local Government has lifted a nearly one-year-old ban on issuance of land titles.

The ban, which took effect in October 2022, followed a report from the district production sectorial committee. The committee said widespread land wrangles was one of the factors hindering meaningful agricultural production in the area.

According to the report, the district is stuck with land disputes that largely arise from irregular allocations facilitated by unscrupulous area land committees at the sub-county level.

In some instances, the report revealed that area land committees were authorising illegal occupancy on community social amenities such as valley dams and gazetted forest reserves, wetlands and also in the Bigo bya Mugenyi archeological site in Ntuusi Sub-county.

The committee report followed complaints about fraudulent issuance of land titles.

By the time the district council banned the issuance of land titles, the term of office of the area land committees and the district land board had expired and the district councillors required a special audit on the district land board.

Mr Malik Mahaba, the chief administrative officer of Sembabule, said the district land board now has new members and all area land committees have been restructured.

“We have new members of the district land board and all have since been sworn in. So, the ban on the issuance of new land titles has also been lifted and people are free to apply through the area land committees to get titles,” he told this publication on Sunday.

The district council has also ordered a special audit on the previous district land board.

The district land officer, Mr Champion Kananura, said to curb existing land wrangles, the land information system currently at the Ministry of Lands zonal offices needs to be extended to districts.

“We have cases where a person applies for a certain piece of land yet that very land is already registered in someone’s name, but because we lack a digital land information system to detect whether the land is already titled, we end up issuing another land title unknowingly,” he said.

 Mr Kananura said plans are underway to sensitise members of area land committees and the district land board on their roles and other related issues.

 “We have already informed the Ministry of Lands to come and conduct an induction of the district land board and the area land committees because some have already confessed that they don’t know what to do,” he added.

The land information system was established through a World Bank loan of Shs232bn and commissioned in 2017 to facilitate physical search of land titles, acquiring of freehold land titles, transfer of mailo land, registering of caveats, carrying out sub-division of mailo land and replacement of damaged titles through the established 22 zonal offices.

Lands minister Judith Nabakooba said her ministry plans to introduce the land information system at districts.

“There is need to bring the land information system to the local government level, but it is too costly and we are still looking for funds,” she said.

Ms Nabakooba added: “But in the meantime, our people can visit the zonal land offices and get assistance.” 

System in place

    The Ministry of Lands officials reveal that the land information system has tried to stem forgeries, graft, and challenges associated with land records that at times got displaced. For districts in Greater Masaka, the zonal land office is located in Masaka City behind central police station.