MBARARA — Lands minister Judith Nabakooba has appealed to the locals in Greater Ankole region to safeguard their land from the would-be grabbers who are always looking out for an opportunity to cease.
Nabakooba made the remarks while presiding over the handover of the first batch of 1500 Systematic Land Adjudication and Certification (SLAAC) freehold titles to beneficiaries at the Mbarara Ministry Zonal Office on August 20.
The Ministry of Lands with support from the World Bank implanted the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP) that supported a program for Systematic Land Adjudication and Certification (SLAAC) among other activities.
She explained that in the NRM manifesto, one of the commitments they gave people is to help them get their land titles and protect their land, conquer hunger and foster development.
“If land owners are left without government support, it would be hard for people to process their titles since it is an expensive process. Use your titles to develop yourselves. Do not sell your land or give the titles out as security to obtain loans from money lenders, you will be duped and your land will be eventually grabbed from you,” she said.
The minister reiterated her ministry’s commitment to continue serving the now landlords to enable them to do productive work with their land and asked them to always reach out for advice before transacting anything with their land titles.
Nabakooba also urged the recipients to often check on their titles online at the National Land Information System to enable them know that they are still the rightful owners.
“I want to implore the local leaders to encourage people to pay the mandatory Shs70,000 URA fees which are in the law and must be paid to complete the titling process,” she said adding that registered land owners are assisted with agriculture inputs for development and they should now take this opportunity to make use of the identified agriculture opportunities in their areas for development.
Robert Kakyebezi Mugabi, the Lord Mayor Mbarara City told the minister that from inception, people were sceptical on whether the program would work or not but they have been proven right .
He thanked the minister for her open door policy where she is always available to receive calls and give feedback on concerns.
Kakyebezi explained that a lot of land grabbers are stealing government land but the minister is always quick to act and cancel the land titles.
“I am not ready to be compromised over stealing government land. I will ensure those land titles are not taken. Evictions will not happen in Mbarara in our presence. We are people who are comfortable with the little we have,” he said.
He also brought to the minister’s attention that the president bought land for some people in the district but it has never been handed to them, asking for her kind intervention in expediting this matter.
Johnson Mukaga, the project coordinator, CEDP, at the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development shared that the overall aim of SLAAC was to enhance security of tenure, ownership and management of land to uplift livelihoods of poor, vulnerable groups and improve the conditions for competitive and enterprise development.
He explained that for the Mbarara Circuit (Ibanda, Rwampara, Mbarara, Kiruhura and Mbarara City), the Ministry has over 31,356 applications approved for titling in the DPC.
“Out of this number, the ministry has printed over 2500 certificates of title for the applicants who have paid the mandatory statutory fees of Shs 70,000. This means that over 25000 applicants have not yet paid the mandatory statutory fees for land titling,” he said.
He shared that this has a very big impact on the Ministry’s plans to effectively and systematically generate and print the certificates of title to the beneficiaries in the region.
In unison, area MPs praised the project saying it is a big step towards solving the land conflicts in the region.
Amos Kankunda, the MP of Rwampara thanked the minister for spearheading the campaign and urged people to use the land titles to develop themselves.
“You are now secure, I want to thank the government and development partners for this initiative that is putting an end to land wrangles and people will now love the government more.”
MP Wilson Kagwengye of Nyabushozi told the minister how people have always cried about the bureaucracy in getting land titles. He explained that in places where people have been given freehold, there is undisputed development.
“My prayer is that the government takes up this project and parliament appropriates money so that every Ugandan gets a freehold title,” he said.
The function was also attended by district leaders, officials from the ministry of lands, beneficiaries and the Woman MP Jovanice Rwenduru Twinobusingye.