Shock as Over 2,000 Land Titles Handed Over to UNRA for Road Projects Mysteriously Disappear

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By Watchdog UG

In a perplexing twist, over 2,000 land titles, initially handed over by local owners to the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) for road projects are believed to have mysteriously disappeared.

It’s alleged that the local landowners willingly transferred their titles for infrastructure development. UNRA had to redesign them removing plots where roads have/ are going to pass and then returning them to the owners.

However, the owners now find themselves in a state of confusion and distress after being misled by officials from UNRA, who repeatedly delayed returning the land titles while officials have also denied receiving the titles. Sadly, some owners, who surrendered their titles for the sake of road projects, expecting prompt returns, have now waited for a decade. Tragically, some have passed away without ever witnessing the return of their titles.

The disappearance of these documents has sparked serious concerns regarding the transparency and accountability of UNRA’s operations, prompting affected owners to demand answers and justice.

Responding to their outcry, the Auditor General’s report 2023 also raised concerns, leading Members of Parliament on the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to summon the Ministry of Lands and UNRA for clarification.

The report asserts that the central regions of Uganda, particularly in Kyadondo, Busiiro, and Kyagwe, have been severely impacted. Owners of the land titles in these areas have faced significant challenges in reclaiming their property titles.

Furthermore, the report revealed that UNRA officials intentionally withheld these titles for over ten years, causing significant hardship for affected landowners. Even those fortunate enough to retrieve their titles faced considerable obstacles in the process. In contrast, others have died without receiving theirs a gesture which can prompt UNRA officials to own the titles of the deceased.

The report uncovered that out of 8101 land titles acquired by UNRA from residents for road projects, only 1428 have been returned to the rightful owners. Meanwhile, 2448 titles are reportedly in the process of being returned, leaving 1261 with unresolved status. Another 542 titles remain mired in various district land offices, while a staggering 2260 titles are unaccounted for in the national land office, despite being acquired from owners long ago.

During the COSASE meeting, Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, addressed the legislators with candour. She explicitly stated that her ministry lacks knowledge regarding the mentioned land titles, urging the committee to direct their inquiries to Allen Kagina, the head of UNRA.

“With regards to the 2000 land titles under discussion, UNRA has the relevant information,” Nabakooba affirmed, emphasizing the need for clarification from UNRA regarding the whereabouts of these titles.

When lawmakers questioned Kagina about the status of the land titles in question, she assured the committee that UNRA was indeed aware of them. Furthermore, the committee pressed her to explain why those who managed to retrieve their land titles encountered numerous anomalies and discrepancies. For instance, Nansubuga, one of the owners, received a title bearing the name Zimula instead, and even the plot number had been altered.

“The 2260 land titles are within the UNRA’s processes, we did not say that they are unaccountable,” said Kagina

However, Kagina’s response failed to satisfy the committee, leading legislators to conclude that there might be a syndicate involving government officials orchestrating the theft of people’s land titles through the UNRA process, which now appears to be evolving into a significant scam.

Their suspicions were further fueled by the revelation concerning 162 land titles acquired by the government, where it was discovered that the owners had passed away years ago. When questioned about why the titles were not returned to the families of the deceased, UNRA officials reportedly remained silent.

For over 35 years, the issue of land titles has remained a vulnerable target, particularly under the current regime. Local, impoverished, and vulnerable individuals have consistently lost their land titles to influential figures who exploit legal and bureaucratic channels to seize control of people’s lands.

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