Kampala’s Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, has raised concerns about the Uganda Land Commission’s authority to allocate land. He believes that the commission is overstepping its mandate by allocating land to individuals and entities in Kampala. Lukwago points out that the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, under articles 238 and 239, assigns the commission the responsibility of holding and managing land on behalf of the public, rather than allocating it.
Speaking at the inaugural Land Management and Administration conference organized by the Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA at Mestil Hotel, Lukwago expressed his reservations about the commission’s role in land allocation. He argued that this misallocation has led to land being granted in environmentally sensitive areas, including wetlands, and to individuals who later sell it to the government at inflated prices.
Lukwago also lamented the lack of political will to safeguard public land in Kampala. He noted that KCCA lacks a comprehensive database of public land in the city, which has resulted in much public land being allocated to private individuals.
The mayor cited examples of schools like Kitante Primary School and Shimoni Demonstration School, which lost portions of their land to private individuals. Shimoni was relocated to make way for a 5-star hotel, while Kitante had ten acres allocated to a private doctor for a women’s fertility clinic.
Lukwago also expressed his disappointment with President Yoweri Museveni, accusing him of facilitating such land deals to the detriment of the general public and the original landowners. This practice, according to Lukwago, contributes to the issuance of freehold titles on public land in the city center.
Kampala faces numerous challenges related to land management, including slum proliferation, environmental degradation, and overburdened road infrastructure due to its high population.
Flavia Zabali Musisi, Head of Geographic Information Systems at KCCA, identified several reasons for the difficulties in land management. One issue is KCCA’s lack of access to land records from the Ministry of Lands, hindering their ability to track land ownership and development.
Musisi also highlighted environmental degradation by individuals and companies, sometimes with protection from other government agencies, making it difficult for KCCA to take corrective action in preserving the ecosystem.
Naome Kabanda, Acting Director of Land Management at the Ministry of Land, pointed to the politicization of land as a major challenge. She mentioned inadequate qualifications for individuals appointed to land management committees and outdated laws that empower the public over these committees.
Dorothy Kisaka, KCCA Executive Director, emphasized the need for inter-ministry and agency collaborations to ensure proper land utilization, management, and administration in Kampala. She stressed that Kampala cannot achieve its goal of becoming a smart city without effective land management, a clear physical plan, and infrastructure development.