Dinah Kembabazi & Samuel Baguma
Area Land Committees (ALC) traceable at sub-county level have been accused of fueling land conflicts in the entire Hoima District mainly due to their ignorance of the law and corruption.
Community members, too, have been challenged to avoid trusting brokers for both land marketing and land title acquisition to avoid land grabbing and unnecessary costs.
These are some of the key issues that captured attention during an engagement held in Hoima city to address the gaps in land administration that have exposed the majority poor to land grabbing.
Mr Yustasi Mpazi Ireeba, the Hoima District Land Board (DLB) Chairman, pointed out that ignorance of the law amongst ALC members across the district is the main cause of the land mess causing the piling cases of disputes.
“I am aware that almost all the committee members have no Land Act, the Constitution and the Land regulation. Even if we try to educate them now, it is not possible due to the short time of engagement. I think the Chief Administrative Officer needs to pick interest in ensuring these people have these books,” said Mr Ireeba.
He noted that ignorance of the law amongst the ALC members including their Chairman has resulted into tainting the image of the land board as a corrupt body.
On the other hand, Mr Ireeba cautioned the public against trusting land brokers to sell land and those that claim to expedite the process of land title acquisition.
“Brokers will always tend to increase the cost of the service in order to make profits. The middlemen also tell lies about engaging the land board and connive with land grabbers,” he warned.
The Chairman expressed worry that the mess in land administration is risking his image he has protected for a long time.
On his side, Mr Jackson Tinkasiimire, the Senior Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), revealed that 86% of the land conflict cases is caused by the negligence of ALCs.
He said that of now, they have 36 land cases in court that are yet to be decided.
Mr Tinkasiimire emphasised on the negligence of the ALCs in the process of delivering the land title application forms to the District Land Board that has on many occasions created room for manipulation.
“Once filled, the application form is supposed to be delivered by the Area Land Committee Chairperson to the Secretary of the DLB. When you give it to the applicant to deliver it himself, he gets room to change anything he wants after all you have your signatures already appended. The blame comes to the DLB yet it was inherited from the parish level,” warned Mr Tinkasiimire.
According to him, signature forgery and land size change is very possible once the applicant has the filled application form in his hand.
Mr Anania Nabimanya, a member of the ALC in Kabaale Sub-county, defended his colleagues saying some problems are caused by ill facilitation that affects their verification and follow-up of the applicant.
He also acknowledged that they find a challenge of dealing with some applicants that claim to have orders from above for their land titles to be processed without queries.
This engagement was organised by Hoima Caritas Development Organisation (HOCADEO) in partnership with Hoima District Local Government.
Mr Brian Nahamya, the HOCADEO Project Team Leader, said that both the district land administrators need to play their role to avoid counter accusations especially in this era when the oil industry development has accelerated land conflicts.