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Sembabule district suspends land title issuance over rampant disputes

Sembabule, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Sembabule district local government has halted the issuance of land titles in a move to address the widespread land disputes in the area.

The decision was based on the district production sectoral committee report, which highlighted the widespread land disputes as one of the factors affecting agricultural production in the area. Records indicate the district is currently stressed with land wrangles that are largely arising from irregular allocations facilitated by unscrupulous area land committees at sub-county levels.

Julius Ssebugwawo, the Secretary of the District Production Committee says that hundreds of residents in the area are living in fear of eviction by people who irregularly acquired land titles over big chunks of land and that as a result, the disputes are frustrating agriculture.

According to him, they established that notable wealthy persons in and outside Sembabule are using manipulative tactics to connive with area land committees to facilitate irregular allocations of public land, at the expense of hundreds of residents who also depend on the same land for survival.

Ssebugwawo explains that the tenure of the majority of the area land committees expired but they have continued to transact business, messing up processes of land allocations in the district. The report also indicates that the local committees have facilitated the issuance of free-hold and overlapping titles over community social amenities such as valley dams and gazetted forest reserves, wetlands and in the precious Bigobyamugenyi Archeological site in Ntuusi sub-county.

Wahab Kabaliisa and Grace Nahaabwe, the councillors representing Mateete and Bulongo sub-counties respectively explained that the rampant land wrangles have repeatedly resulted in violence as residents resist evictions by often highhanded claimants.

Nahaabwe adds that on top of threatening the settlements and economic agricultural activities, the wrangles are also casting the district in bad light which calls for serious intervention by the current district administration. Accordingly, the councillors unanimously resolved to suspend operations of all sub-county area land committees and recommended halting further issuance of land titles in the area until an audit is done on the operations of the District Land Board.

Olivia Nakayiwa the Sembabule district Deputy Speaker who presides over the council session accordingly asked Malik Mahabba; the Chief Administrative Officer to write to all sub-county chiefs and Chairpersons instructing them to implement the resolution. Mahabba said n his response that he had also noted the concern on land disputes in the area, saying this could be one of the approaches towards fixing the challenge.

Nayebare Kyamuzigita, the outgoing Sembabule Resident District Commissioner also confirms that her office has been overwhelmed by cases of land disputes, many of them threatening hundreds of people with eviction.

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