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Lands Ministry temporarily closes Wakiso zonal land office

FILE PHOTO: Persis Namuganza, state Minister for Lands

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The real estate industry in Wakiso district has been thrown into panic following the temporary closure of Wakiso Ministry Zonal Office-MZO. There will be no land transaction in the district, during the time of the closure, as operations of surveys and mapping sections at the facility, will be frozen.

State Minister for Lands, Persis Namuganza says that the closure will allow technical teams to successfully update the Land Information System at Wakiso Ministry Zonal Office, between January 4 and January 21, 2020. The process which will affect over 394,000 land transactions.

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has been implementing and updating versions of software used in the Land Information System (LIS) since March 2013 and have so far completed the process for all the 20 Ministry Zonal Offices apart from Wakiso.

According to the timeline, the Ministry will begin the LIS training sessions for all Wakiso MZO staff on how to use the new software on January 6. By January 10, the Ministry will as well freeze all Registry operations and continue with the On-Job training of staff until January 20, 2020.

Namuganza explains that in preparation for the system upgrade, the office will not be able to generate Deed Plans as well as cartographic and survey operations in the Registry and Land Administration department office.

However, although the development has been welcomed, there are fears that there might be delays which might cause a lot of losses. Isaac Mukasa, a real estate dealer notes that they have several transactions lined up and fears that the closure will greatly affect them.

“This has come out of the blue, they would have told us some months ago so that we prepare in advance. January 21 is too far and our business is going to be greatly affected,” he said, adding that even the process might go beyond the set time as he referred to Mityana and Luweero MZO which remained closed for almost a year when the ministry was taking up an upgrade.

With a fast-growing population and rapidly growing real estate business among other factors, Wakiso which is made up of two huge counties of Busiro and Kyadondo registers the highest number of land transactions in the country. The office handles close to 1 million transactions annually.

But Namuganza notes that the ministry is mindful of the need to resume operations of the office in the shortest possible time and considering the workload at the Wakiso zonal office.

In the same development, Dennis Obbo, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Lands notes that on reopening, the Ministry will split the zonal office into two; one handling Wakiso-Busiro and the other dealing with transactions from Wakiso-Kyadondo.

The decision comes at the backdrop of calls to relocate the  Zonal Office from the district headquarters. Wakiso district authorities said that the presence of the zonal office was tainting the image of the district following the numerous allegations of corruption which at times are blamed on the local government.

Wakiso leaders also cited that the Lands Ministry owes the district over 190 million Shillings, contributed towards the construction of the offices. however, Obbo notes that the ministry has been renegotiating with the district so that they continue occupying space at the headquarters. He adds that they have also discussed how they will meet their debt.

The government established the Ministerial Zonal Offices in a bid to take services closer to the public.

Prior to their establishment, all land transactions were conducted at the Lands Ministry Headquarters. The officers are found in Mbarara, Masaka, Kampala, Jinja, Mbale, Arua, Masindi, Mukono, and Fort Portal, Lira, Gulu, and Kibaale district.

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