Bribery, Absenteeism Persist At Luwero Zonal Lands Offices

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Alleged corruption tendencies, delays to issue land titles and absenteeism of staff at Luwero Land zonal offices have persisted.

The Ministry of Lands with support from the World Bank also constructed a ministerial zonal office located at Bukalasa in Wobulenzi town to host the computerized Land Information System (LIS).

The computerization of the Land Registry which was completed in 2019 was intended at easing the titling of property, registration of land and improve land administration.

The district services were since transferred to the ministerial zonal offices, however, two years after, residents and local leaders say they are yet to see the impact of the office in terms of easing access to services.

Geoffrey Musoke the District Councillor for Zirobwe Sub County explains that on October 22nd 2020 he returned his land title for correction due to an error in his names. Musoke says that until now, he is yet to be issued with a new title. He adds that efforts to access the land registrar on the matter have failed.

Musoke says that several people have resorted to bribing officials or pay huge sums of money to land agents so that their land titles are processed in time.

Sam Serunjogi the Director of Serunjogi Investments Limited in Wobulenzi town council says most works at the zonal offices have been taken over by security guards who don’t allow the people to seek answers from land registrars or surveyors concerning their complaints.

“For example, a registrar can direct a client to come with the person who made the land transfer to countersign in his presence to confirm his signature. Surprisingly even such people are directed to sign before the guards at gate and forms are taken to registrar” Serunjogi says

Serunjogi adds that the same officers at Lands office work only on Tuesday and Thursdays but even then, they report late leaving many people stranded.

Serunjogi also questioned bureaucracy and the high costs involved to digitalise a land title which has forced him among other people to abandon the process.

Aisha Kayaga the District female councillor for Butuntumula sub-county said that the bureaucracy and bribery tendencies have forced the women to leave the process of land title acquisition to only men.

Elizabeth Namanda the Luwero District Chief Administrative Officer says that he has got several complaints from the Zonal Land offices but she has no authority over staff since they are recruited directly by the Ministry of Lands.

Namanda however says that she will only ask the officer in charge of the office to appear before the council and respond to the complaints.

Persis Namuganza the State Minister for Lands says that the zonal offices at Luwero are well equipped with both staff and resources to process land titles within a week.

Namuganza said that she is going to investigate the complaints and find out why they have persisted despite the government interventions to streamline the offices.

Namuganza added that access to staff was only restricted during the COVID- 19 lockdown but this has been lifted and doesn’t see any reason why people are unable to meet any staff.

“If a staff doesn’t want to work, he/she should resign and those who want to perform take over the jobs,” Namuganza said.

In 2017, the Commission of Inquiry into land matters advised administrators of the old Lands Office to kick out land agents to regain public trust.

The commission issued the advice after getting reports that land agents had taken over the Land office, triggering massive corruption and cheating residents who are seeking to process land titles.

Instead, the newly constructed zonal lands Office has registered a surge in land agents who have positioned themselves as saviours to disgruntled clients and end up cheating them.

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