Kampala, Uganda | URN | Government officials are at the centre of grabbing public land across the country according to the chairperson of the Uganda Land Commission, Beatrice Nyakaisiki Byenkya.
Speaking to reporters at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala, Byenkya who has been in the position since August 2019, said that government land is under threat from the very people under whose custody it is invested.
“There is this issue of people grabbing government land. Well, it is unfortunate but it is happening and it is an open secret. Government officials are grabbing government land. It is unfortunate but there we’re. If the cadres of government are not really walking the line and carrying out the responsibilities as is to keep whatever is in their custody, then what type of people are we? What type of leaders are we because we’re supposed to be leaders by example,” said Byenkya.
ULC manages 11,087.748 square miles of public land. This land includes land that houses all public schools, health centres, swamps, national parks, game reserves, prison, military and police barracks, airfields among others.
Byenkya said the problem is even made worse by the limited budget and personnel that the commission has. She added that funding to the commission doesn’t commensurate with the responsibilities especially when it comes to the issue of compensation.
“With managing all this expanse of land we find that the personnel are very thin. We are only eight but we are supposed to manage the land on behalf of the government. That’s why we see people who are encroaching on the land and we can’t police it,” Byenkya said.
The commission is also vested with the powers of issuing land leases on the land it manages. The commission receives about 200 land lease applications every month.
Sseremba Geoffrey, the acting secretary to the commission, says they are only able to process 50 of these applications because of limited staff. He said the process of verifying the application which involves onsite inspections takes a long time and therefore requires enough staff to do.