Kampala, Uganda | INDEPENDENT REPORTER | The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has come out to explain the land acquisition challenges that have necessitated The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
The proposed amendment of Article 26 of the 1995 Constitution aims to make it possible for government to take possession of or acquire property upon payment of the compensation awarded by the government while any resolution of disputes to determine the additional amount claimed by the property owner is ongoing.
According to government, “This will curb delays in implementation, and, Government infrastructure and investment projects will be able to be completed on time. The Bill is also expected to allow for persons dissatisfied with the compensation amount awarded to resolve the dispute in court.”
Deputy Attorney General of Uganda Mwesigwa Rukutana on July 13, 2017 read Bill 13, The Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, that proposes acquisition of public land upon compensation.
It was presented by Rukutana “for the first reading” and Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, according to the rules of procedure, committed the bill to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs before the second and third readings.
Brochure lists projects delayed and consequences
A brochure released this week by The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development lists at least 19 cases that have prompted government to seek a change in law, including the recent case of UNRA and NWSC struggling to get access to Centenary Park in Kampala.
On the Kitante road and Centenary Park, the Ministry of Lands said “the leasehold property owner objected to NWSC’s work in the area even when the Controlling Authority (KCCA) had cleared NWSC to commence works in this section of the project area. NWSC is not sure of access to site as the leasehold property owner demands to be ‘compensated’ for her to give a No objection to NWSC to lay a sewer pipeline in this section of the project area. By June 2016, this denial of access to NWSC had cost the country UGX 979,915,047=.”
The other cases listed involve land in Kinawataka – Kasokoso, the Kampala – Entebbe Expressway and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
Minister Amongi appeals
“The good intentions of this Bill should not be overshadowed by false allegations of land grabbing,” said Amongi Betty Ongom , Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, in a foreword to the brochure.
“Government shall prioritize consultations and ensure that all the land acquisition challenges are understood by the stakeholders and resolved, while safe guarding and respecting the land rights of land owners as provided for under Article 26 of the Constitution, “ Amongi added
“ I therefore seek your support in disseminating the reasons and other information about the constitutional amendment, which will benefit the entire country. Further, I implore you to provide views on how Government can fast-track its public infrastructure projects to be able to achieve the middle income economy by 2020.”