Early last month, I took a few days off my work schedule to ascertain the status of my land in Wakiso. The decision to request for an official search was informed by the on-going expansionist agenda of a rich man in the neighbourhood in Entebbe (name of the village withheld).
As a requirement, I filled in an application for an official search, and completed the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) online assessment form.
I paid the required Shs10,000, bank charges and a payment slip was issued by the bank agent.
The entire process of completing the URA assessment form and making payments was flawless.
However, when I proceeded to submit my application at Wakiso-Busiro zonal lands office, I was the second in the queue.
I lined up for more than 40 minutes. Why? Because the person who receives applications for searches was busy at the back office, attending to files (in a bundle) that had been brought in by someone who disregarded the queue.
After complaining to one of the employees at the lands office, the person who is charged with receiving requests for searches returned and started ‘attending’ to us.
Whereas this is supposed to take a short time, I took another 20 minutes at the counter. Why? Brokers and friends were bypassing those of us in the queue, and submitting files to the receiver. These, the officer in-charge immediately started to enter their details in a computer, while my documents were put at the side of the table. After a while waiting, details on my application were recorded in a book, and I was asked to return after five working days.
I returned after 10 days and to my dismay, the officer who received the file told me that my search had one signature missing. Certainly, that was false. Searches are signed by the registrar of titles. Was this person trying to help me understand the game?
While pondering my next move, I realised that there were people whose files were received and attended to in time. My question is what motivates this officer to attend to some files faster than those of us who had queued?
Each file submitted attracts a private levy of Shs10,000. Therefore, those who do not pay a private levy (corruption) take longer than usual to be attended to.
Whereas land searches are supposed to be officially issued (after paying the required Shs10,000 to URA), those who know the game do not pay this to government, but instead pay between Shs5000 and Shs10,000 to an individual who provides search details on a small piece of paper.
It’s upon this background that I appeal to the authorities at Wakiso-Busiro Lands office to bring officers to order. A public office should not be used for personal gain. Corruption is a vice, and denies people services.
Name withheld on request