The state minister for lands, Persis Namuganza, has directed investigations into how individuals acquired land titles in the wetlands and buffer zones of River Nile and Lake Victoria in Jinja district, with a view of having them cancelled.
Namuganza made the decision after receiving complaints about investors who connive with officials to obtain fake land titles.
“I have received many complains over individuals and investors conniving with the ministry zonal officers and have got fake titles in wetlands and buffer zones of Rive Nile and Lake Victoria which needs quick action,” she said.
The minister stated that she is only implementing President Yoweri Museveni’s directive which made clear that no investor should be allocated land titles in wetlands for development.
While meeting members of various area land committees, members from the Jinja regional zonal offices and councillors at the district council hall, Namuganza explained that once investigations are complete, recommendations must be made for the cancelation of all the fake land titles.
During the meeting aimed at assessing and evaluating the zonal offices before redeploying more staff to handle the eleven districts of Busoga region, Jinja Municipality councillor Bernard Mbayo raised alarm over the manner in which a foreign investor acquired 50 acres of public land valued at sh7.5b, with a huge section in a wetland.
“I tried to make a petition to the land commission on how he acquired the 50 acres of land with a title up to the wetland, however, the investor informed me that I was wasting my time and until now, I have no reply to that effect,” Mbayo told the minister.
However Namuganza also recommended the cancellation of titles at Spire Road Primary School and at Plot 24 Kyabazinga Road which belongs to Jinja Municipal Council.
“I have all records pertaining to the ownership of Spire Road Primary School with those who allocated themselves plots with titles on the land, and this also applies to Plot 24 Kyabazinga Way, where greedy people have managed to secure titles,” she said.
Namuganza cited laxity by district and sub county councils which fail to make recommendations to the ministry for the immediate cancelation of fake land titles, adding that Jinja is soon becoming a city which needs modernity.
“Jinja has lost most of its valuable land to fraudsters yet soon its becoming a city. Some individuals and investors take advantage of our workers whom they bribe in exchange of fake land titles. This has affected mainly government institutions like schools, health centres and some sub county headquarters,” she said.
The minister cited an example of where one individual claims to own the land title of Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, while another claims to have lived in Mabira Forest for over 50 years and has a land title too.
Erick Saakwa the Jinja resident district commissioner decried absenteeism and lack of manpower at the Jinja ministry zonal offices.
He said that according to his investigations, workers report to work only on Monday and Tuesday at take the rest of the days off.
“The issue of absenteeism has come to our notice. Once people visit the offices, they are only told the system server is off which has led to some people give up on processing titles for their properties,” he said, wondering how a peasant can understand what a server is.