Government Moves to Popularize Ostracized Land Law Amendments

Ministry of Lands has summoned government departments, ministries and agencies currently implementing major infrastructure projects to brainstorm on how to popularize the new amendments in Article 26 of the Constitution, which aim at easing the process of government acquiring private land for its important projects.

Under the new adjustments, government will be able to possess private land and proceed to use it whether or not owner is satisfied with with the offered compensation.

The Lands Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Savino Kasigaire last week called the heads of agencies for a meeting to devise ways of selling the amendments to the public.

Those summoned include the PS  Ministry of Energy, the Executive Directors of KCCA, UIA and UNRA; Heads of the Standard Gauge Railway, UEGCL, UEDCL and the MD Rural Electrification Agency.

These today Tuesday, met at the Land Ministry’s boardroom to find ways of making the amendments “appreciated by the citizens.”

“There is need to prepare convincing information, education and communication materials that will be used for dissemination,” said the PS Kasigaire in the invitation letter.

The amendments which have since generated a lot of public outcry and condemnation from political and economic analysts, were adopted by cabinet recently.

The changes were made in Article 26 as follows:

3) “where the parties are unable to agree on a fair and inadequate compensation payable under clause (2)(b)(i), the government shall deposit in court or with any other competent authority the market value of the property as evaluated by the Chief Government Valuer and government shall take possession of the property pending determination by the court or other competent authority of the disputed amount of the compensation.

4) For the avoidance of doubt, the owner of the property shall not stop government from taking possession of the property where government has deposited the evaluated compensation amount referred to in Clause (3), but shall have a right to claim the disputed compensation amount that may be determined by the court or other competent authority.”

The amendment has attracted widespread criticism, with some leaders calling on citizens to reject them.

Former Presidential candidate Col Dr Kizza Besigye after the amendments became public, launched a nationwide campaign dubbed “My Land, My Life,” in which he rallied Ugandans to stand against the changes.

Dr Besigye believes the amendments are the “final move by government on Ugandans after taking away everything that they own.”

But the Lands Minister Hon Betty Amongi says government is not deliberately trying to grab people’s land but to rid the bottlenecks in the implementation of infrastructure projects as the country races toward the “Middle Income Economy” goal by 2020.

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