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A PRESS BRIEFING ON LAND ACQUISITION ISSUES

BY MINISTER FOR LANDS, HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT,

HON BETTY AMONGI HELD

AT THE UGANDA MEDIA CENTRE (11.00 AM  - 5TH August 2016)

Members of the Press, allow me to provide you with some facts relating to the proposed Land Amendment. There are 3 legal regimes that guide on Land Matters in Uganda: The 1995 Constitution, which vests land in the citizens of Uganda under Article 237; the 1998 Land Act CAP 227 as amended and the 1965 Land Acquisition Act CAP 226. The 1995 Constitution of Uganda and the Land Act provide that land in Uganda may be held in terms of four tenure categories only.  These are Customary, Freehold, Mailo and Leasehold tenure. Those are the legal regimes that protect the land you own. The subject of the proposed Amendment does not affect the status of ownership; rather it deals with Land Acquisition for public works. The proposal is to amend the Land Acquisition Act, to allow Government to compensate the Registered Proprietors and other Land owners prior and also while the infrastructure development process is on-going. This is for construction of roads, Railway, health centres, schools, Power and water facilities and any other critical Government infrastructure development project like Dams etc. I want to appeal to Ugandans to remain calm and wait for the proposal and debate it on its merits or demerits but not on the basis of political considerations. Currently, the proposal is still at inception stage, and should the proposal be approved for an amendment, then we shall hold consultations in a participatory and inclusive manner. Ugandans will be given an opportunity to debate the merits and demerits of these proposals as was done during the time of the Land Amendment Bill, 2007 by Cabinet and Parliament. That is the channel through which laws in Uganda are made. This proposal is already working in other countries: for example, Kenya and India have been able to put in place policies and laws that are people centered but at the same time addresses timely acquisition of Land for Government projects. The basis of this proposal is anchored on the long and cumbersome procedures of Acquisition as embedded in the Land Acquisition Act; The Current Land Acquisition Procedures as provided for under the law entails the followings: Planning to determine the different land options available for meeting the public need in a participatory manner. The exact location and size of the land to be acquired is identified. A notice is published to inform owners and occupants in the designated area that the Government intends to acquire their land. People are requested to submit claims for compensation for land to be acquired. The notice describes the purpose and process, including important deadlines and the procedural rights of people. Public sensitization ad consultative meetings providing people with an opportunity to learn more about the project, and to express their opinions and needs for compensation. Determination of the equivalent compensation for the land to be acquired at the stated date of valuation. Owners and occupants submit their claims. The land is valued by a Government Valuer or by a private Valuer appointed by the acquiring agency under the supervision of the Chief Government Valuer. The acquiring agency considers the submitted claim, and offers what it believes to be appropriate compensation. Disclosure of award and negotiations then follow. Where there is acceptance of compensation award Government pays people for their land or resettles them on an alternative land. On the other hand, the law provides for Land owners and occupants to be given the chance to contest the compulsory acquisition, including the decision to acquire the land, the process by which the land was acquired, and the amount of compensation offered through a cost effective and equitable complaint redress mechanism. This is what has delayed most Government Infrastructure development projects and must be cured for the good of our nation though introduction of the proposed Land Acquisition amendments. There are scenarios where 90% of community who want services have accepted the value government is paying, then 10% rejects it and the project is compromised or abandoned and monies returned or not utilized. The World Bank support to the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development and other interventions There was mis-information in the Luganda newspaper about the World Bank supported Project being implemented by the Ministry called the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development project. The purpose of this project development is to improve the competitiveness of enterprises in Uganda by creating an efficient and effective land administration system. This is to in line with Article 237 Sect. (4) and Sect. (8) of the Land (amendment) Act as which allows those owning Land under Customary Land to acquire Certificates of ownership. It has provided for the systematic registration of land to be able to positively impact enterprise creation and socio-economic transformation by supporting land owners in both rural and urban areas to register their land assets. The project is expected to improve Land Administration through construction of Zonal Land Offices in Kabale, Luwero, Mityana, Mpigi, Moroto, Rukungiri, Soroti, Mukono and Tororo to bring the number to 21. Undertaking Systematic Registration of Individual and Communally Owned Land, through establishing Communal Land Associations (CLAs) and demarcating their land to protect it from being grabbed by issuing them with certificates or titles; and implementing actions for Strengthening Institutions and Mechanisms for land dispute resolution by engaging the Judiciary and other land dispute resolution institutions. What this project is doing was done in Rukungiri in 1950s to protect land owners interests by issuance of adjudicated freehold titles. Today these owners are the richest because of the economic transformation the Land titles brought. The Ministry also did the same for people in Ntungamo, Iganga, Mbale, and Kibaale. It was called Systematic Demarcation. It has equally protected citizen’s lands from being taken away. Currently a similar intervention is underway in Jinja and Sheema districts. These interventions are demand driven. Government does not force any one, as long as owners see the benefits of tenure security in modern times. There are other initiatives where the citizens of Kasese have demanded for Certificates of Ownership. Over 18,900 CCO applications have been received. Currently with the over 5,000 CCOs have been completed and issuance is underway to the owners. Therefore, to say that Government wants to grab peoples land by ensuring that they get certificates is misleading, unacceptable and a plan to keep people always living under fear of threatened evictions. Hoima, Buliisa and Nwoya, have all gone to kasese to see CCOs in action, in the banks, being used during dispute resolution, protecting the rights of women and children and facilitating the poor to get conclusive evidence of their land rights and all of them want the same. I want to appeal to the Politicians who themselves have titled their Land, to sensitize the population on the benefit of securing their rights under any tenure system rather than misleading them. I thank you for listening to me and now will respond to any questions you may wish to ask

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