Government has been advised to involve stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of land valuation and compensation laws and policies if it wants to conduct seamless land acquisition processes.
This was raised during a one-day dialogue organised by German foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung at Hilton Garden Inn Kamwokya under the theme ‘rethinking the processes of land valuation and compensation in Uganda.’
Participants, who included valuers, surveyors, project-affected persons, policy makers and human rights activists, agreed that there are very many grey areas in Uganda’s land valuation and compensation processes, hence the need for revision and proper implementation of existing ones.
Speaking on a panel of experts dissecting the ‘balance between public interest and private interest’, BLB’s Head of Operations and Deputy Managing Director (technical) Bashir Kizito Juma noted that in order to realize adequate and fair compensation during compulsory land acquisition on mailo land tenure, there is need to draw a clear distinction between legally acceptable land occupants and the registered land owners.
He highlighted the unfairness in the current compensation share system where 70 per cent of land compensation goes to the land occupant and 30 per cent to the landowner. In some cases, the land occupant could be leaning towards being an illegal settler. He emphasized that it was wrong to classify every settler as bonafide or lawful when a third category of illegal occupants exists.
Experts different fields exchanging ideas during the debate on land acquisition.
This was re-echoed by the former chief government valuer Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya who said that whoever set the 70/30 percentage share intended to cheat landlords. He added that the share ratio should be based on a case by case citing the nature of landlords, the existing landlord-tenant relationship and how much the landlords would be willing to accept as buyouts for their proprietor interests.
Mr Kizito further observed that it was not necessary to dwell on pricing as a sole determinant of what is fair and adequate compensation, but rather the guarantee that the procedures and practices of compulsory land acquisition are followed as provided by the law.
These, he said, included the participatory approaches in the planning stage where landlords are involved not only in determining the value of land in question, the status of occupancy of any tenants on the said land, prior but also in choosing between the available options for locating the intended infrastructure project. He quoted the increasing occurances of government's occupation or taking possession of the land without prior payment or compensation of the land lords which is contrary to the law.
He recommended that policy makers should provide for payment of interest to PAPs(project affected persons) where delays occur (in payment after assessment), (and returning land titles for the residues)
He for instance mentioned cases where government has previously acquired kingdom land without prior valuation or compensation and the resultant quest for compensation would take as long as ten years.
He also talked about the need to include final surveys as part of the compensation process, rather than being a monitoring and evaluation process, to ensure that the project affected persons get paid (additional compensation) for exactly what they have lost. This is in light of the glaring mismatch or variations between what is normally quoted as land size to be appropriated and what is actually finally taken up during implementation.