By Spy Uganda
Mbarara: Residents of three cells in Mbarara City have petitioned lands Minister Judith Nabakooba to help them streamline their security of tenure.
Nabakooba who is currently in the Ankole Sub-region met residents of Survey Cell, Nyamityobora Ward and Rwenjuru Ward in Mbarara City locals who shared their plight with her on how it has become a toll order for them to legalize their ownership of land.
Among the affected is a family of the late Abdallah Saidi, who requested the minister to help them in their long-awaited justice towards the recovery of their land from the Uganda Land Commission (ULC).
Those who were led by Karim Abdallah say they are the bona fide occupants of the said land but were left out and a lease was granted to hydro home limited for five years instead of them.
Karim pinned some ULC staff for conniving and allocating land titles to themselves using other people’s names who are not in any way connected to the land.
“The title issued is numbered Leasehold Register Volume MBR549, Folio 8 and Plot number 7A and Block 9 road. Name Mbarara Municipality Block Kyamogorani in the names of Tumwesigye Paul, Juma Kabwende, Nyanzi Vide and Tumuhimbise Gordon,” he explains.
He adds that the fraudsters claimed to be the grandchildren of the late Saidi Abdallah and got a land title which is not true. Incidentally, Plot 7A and 9 used to have two land titles, one for the lands surveyor and the other for the Geological Ministry was merged into one title.
“We kindly request your office to help us cancel the said lease and be considered as the said lease is due to expire. As the bonafide occupants, we beg to be given a chance this time and also request you to carry out a thorough investigation for justice to prevail,” Karim said.
In the same vein, locals of Kakiika and Survey Cells and Kamukunzi and Nyamityobora wards asked the minister to allow them to get land titles.
They shared with her how it is challenging to renew expired titles acquired earlier on leasehold as the Mbarara District land board frustrates them.
Other residents in the same wards acquired freehold land titles whose authenticity now becomes questionable due to the prevailing circumstances.
The chairman LC1 Survey cell told the minister that as seen elsewhere, they risk seeing land grabbers coming and claiming ownership of land based on this weakness.
Most of the residents on the land in question are bona fide occupants who have lived in the area since time immemorial and others have bought plots genuinely and have put up developments approved by physical planners of Mbarara Municipal council.
“We beg for your intervention in this matter to help the frightened residents as you are aware that the costs associated with processing and maintaining leasehold titles are not easy to manage ordinarily,” he said.
He added: “Also, considering the importance of land titles basically as being a form of collateral security, concerned persons now face a big challenge on how to further their developments since accessing credit facilities from financial institutions has become a far cry.”
In her remarks, Ms Nabakooba said her team has to do a boundary opening exercise immediately to ascertain the number of acres being talked about and the number of affected persons.
She said during the exercise if there is anyone with the title it will be the best time to be known and where their titles are and those affected by the creation of those titles. Those with titles will also be investigated on how they acquired them.
“Kakiika and surveyor cell, I believe in the same period we can do boundary opening for the two places as well. Then we shall know the bonafide and lawful occupants and we shall guide them on the process of acquiring titles.”
She added that President Museveni told her that whenever she finds his people on land belonging to the government or the public, priority should go to the sitting tenants, not to other people.
“I want to assure you, no one is going to evict you because you are on government land and it cannot evict its people. Settle down and feel free, you will even get your land titles.”
Nabakooba also pledged to investigate the land belonging to the late Abdallah Saidi and understand how the lease was acquired.
She said she will come up with practical recommendations that will help to solve the problems in that area.
“Since we have the details, we are going to write to the district land board because it is them that gave out the lease. I am going to tell them that the original owners what to reclaim their land since there is no one else that has been given the lease,” she said.
Mbarara City Woman MP Ritah Atukwasa told the minister that mailo land issues are still a challenge in Mbarara and she feels bad to see a lot of people being threatened to be evicted.
Ms Atukwasa explained that as they become a city, the only thing that can save residents is their titles to access financing since people want to do businesses, have loans but above all want to sleep serene and know they own.
Mbarara South MP Mwine Mpaka also shared with the minister that all that residents want is to legalize their existence on the land and get the benefits of owning land.
“You have seen issues of land, someone can just come today and title this whole village. All they are seeking is an assurance to legalise their existence on this land. There were two issues earlier stated, they are requesting for freehold titles.”
He pledged to offer support to the minister’s technical staff so that they come as soon as possible and start to open boundaries.