Out of the 81 districts in Uganda 74 do not have a registered land surveyor. One of the main reasons for this is that to be registered by the Surveyors Registration Board one requires a university degree yet a vast majority of the survey is carried out by diploma holders. The result is that the diploma holders carry out surveys and then look for registered surveyors, who often sign and stamp the documents without seeing the land!
Granted, every profession should have safeguards against incompetence and unethical practice. For this reason a profession requires a professional body, minimum standards, a registration process and disciplinary mechanisms for errant members. However, professional regulation should not curtail the delivery of services to the public. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the diploma holders are not surveying land.
There is no point clinging to a legal framework that is out of touch with the reality on the ground. The lands ministry should come up with a board similar to the nurses and midwivesâ€™ council to register the diploma holders and issue them with practising licences. The licence should clearly spell out their professional limitations and the board should be able to discipline errant members.
As long as surveyors are not registered and regulated by a regulatory body of their own, it is going to be difficult to weed out quacks and unethical practices.