By Our Reporter in Mbarara
Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba has handed over land titles to residents in the Greater Ankole region to safeguard their land rights and foster economic growth and development .
Nabakooba has since urged the residents to embrace government’s development program and use their land For productive purposes to increase household income. She was handing over of the first batch of 1500 Systematic Land Adjudication and Certification (SLAAC) freehold titles to beneficiaries at the Mbarara Ministry Zonal Office..
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 made to the people was to help them get their land titles and secure their land titles.
“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” Nabakooba advised the excited new land owners.
Nabakooba also urged the recipients to often check on their titles online at the National Land Information System to enable them know the status of their titles. “I want to implore the local leaders to encourage people to pay the mandatory Shs70,000 URA fees which is in the law to complete the titling process.
The minister said that the new registered land owners will be supported with agriculture inputs to develop their land through agriculture. .
Mr. Robert Kakyebezi Mugabi, the Mayor Mbarara City told the minister that from inception, people were skeptical on whether the program would work but have been prove wrong . He thanked the minister for her open door policy where she is always available to receive calls and give feedback on concerns of the people.
Kakyebezi explained that a lot of land grabbers are stealing government land but the minister is always quick to act and protect the people and government’s interests . “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 during our tenrure. We are people who are comfortable with the little we have,” he said.
Mr.Johnson Mukaga, the project coordinator, CEDP, at the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development Explained that 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 “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 for their titles.
The 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 suffer with the bureaucracy to get 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.