KAMPALA – In the move to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the country, the government decided to temporary close all zonal land offices during the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to Lands Ministry, this was after realizing that zonal offices given the crowding that happens there can easily become COVID-19 super spreaders.
Addressing the press on Sunday, Judith Nabakooba, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development said that following the establishment of strong internal COVID-19 prevention systems, they have decided to re-open these zonal offices.
“The offices started to operate on the 15th of July 2021 but in strict compliance of the Presidential and Ministry of Health directives on COVID-19,” she said.
“Part of these directives mandate all government institutions to maintain 10% capacity of Human Resource,” added Minister Nabakooba.
She said that staff at all zonal offices will be expected to work on rotation in line with the sequence of the work to ensure timely completion of land transactions.
The also warned of the “continued illegal” land evictions during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Nabakooba revealed that her Ministry continues to receive reports of land evictions and threats of evictions during this lockdown despite the directive not to.
“Cases have been reported in places like Mukono nama, Mpigi, Nakasongora, Mubende, Kassanda, Buikwe, Wakiso, Sembabule, Hoima, Kagadi, Nebbi, Dokolo, Sheema, Mbale and many others,” she said.
She added, “I want to use today’s briefing to inform the general public that it is illegal to carry out any land evictions during this COVID-19 lockdown period.”
“The law is also very clear on the protection of both bonafide occupants and lawful occupants.”
The Security of occupancy of tenants or bibanja holders on registered land is protected by the 1995 Constitution and the Land Act.
She said that given that majority of the government systems such as courts of law are not fully operational during this time, it is wrong to evict people because the affected persons do not have anywhere to run too.
Given the above, I therefore want to direct as follows;
No tenant by occupancy should be evicted from their bibanja or the land they are in possession of during the COVID-19 lockdown period;
Any forceful engagements and /or impending evictions should be reported to the nearest Police Station, Office of RDC and Courts of Law, to verify the authenticity of the orders and avert destruction of life and property;
Where a Landlord chooses to sell land to a different person other than the tenants during this COVID-19 lockdown period, the rights of the existing tenants shall not be affected in any way.
The old Landlord shall take the responsibility of introducing the new Landlord to the tenants for purposes of paying him/her busuulu, after the COVID-19 lockdown period is lifted.
The District Security Committees chaired by the respective Resident District Commissioners/Resident City Commissioners are directed to assist lawful and bonafide occupants to remain and enjoy possession on their bibanja during the COVID 19 lockdown period, be aware that Government issued a “stay at home” guideline.
The Ministry Zonal Offices have been reopened
On August 1st, the Ministry of Lands is going to launch a Toll-Free line that will be used by members of the public to report any cases of illegal evictions and threats.
These interim measures shall be implemented during the entire period of the COVID-19 lockdown to protect the rights and obligations of both the Landlords and tenants on registered land and customary land owners on unregistered land.