The Buganda Land Board wrote to the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) commission of inquiry raising concerns on land compensation.
The board noted that the Kabaka has never been compensated since the inception of Unra and that they demand nearly Shs 10 billion for Unra’s failure to pay the Kabaka. This prompted the commission to ask the Buganda Land Board chief executive officer, David Kyewalabye Male, to re-appear at the inquiry.
The inquiry, chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, has commissioners Patrick Rusongoza, Abraham Nkata, Ben Okello Luwum and Richard Mongati, with Andrew Kasirye as lead counsel. ZAHRA ABIGABA brings you excerpts from the proceedings:
Kasirye: What is your name?
Kyewalabye: I am David Kyewalabye Male.
Kasirye: How old are you?
Kyewalabye: I am 46 years old.
Kasirye: What do you do for a living?
Kyewalabye: I work as the chief executive officer of the Buganda Land Board.
Kasirye: When did you join the Buganda Land Board?
Kyewalabye: Since February 2007.
Kasirye: What is the Buganda Land Board?
Kyewalabye: The Buganda Land Board is a company mandated with the management of all the land vested in his royal highness the Kabaka of Buganda. This mandate includes the collection of all rental and related income accruing from the use of the Kabaka’s land, including compensation by the state and related organs or bodies.
Kasirye: What are the complaints you are bringing on behalf of the Kabaka and the Buganda Land Board against the Uganda National Roads Authority?
Kyewalabye: Our complaint as the Buganda Land Board on behalf of the Kabaka is with regard to the failure and the refusal by Unra to provide the Kabaka with compensation for the use and acquisition of large tracts of land in spite of various demands and reminders to pay. My lord, what puzzles us is that leasehold tenants and bibanja tenants continue to be compensated while the Kabaka is completely ignored.
Kasirye: Do you know the roads /areas affected and Unra never compensated?
Kyewalabye: The areas include Kibuye-Entebbe phase 2 which was completed in 1998 but up-to-date we have not seen any attempts at payment for Kibuye-Zzana (a 5km stretch), Kampala Northern bypass, Masanafu-Bukalagi-Namungona-Kasubi; all these have not been compensated yet works are going on. Then we have got the Entebbe expressway, which also includes the Munyonyo spur, Kigo, Lunya, Buggu-Kibiri-Kirindi and Mutungo, Mpigi-Maddu, Sembabule road, Lukalu B, Kiriti Sabwe hill, Kabasanda, Mirembe and Ngomanene villages. Mukono-Kyetume [the famous Katosi road], Kisoga-Nyenga road and the affected areas include Kiyola, Katosi central and Kiwologoma villages.
Kasirye: Are there any other complaints you have to table before the commission?
Kyewalabye: Yes, my lord. There are titles given to third parties on the Kabaka’s land without going through the normal process and the areas affected are Munyonyo block 255 and plot 98. The Uganda land commission issued these titles [but] they were fraudulently acquired.
Kasirye: What does that particular road have to do with Unra?
Kyewalabye: The claimants at Munyonyo road have already contacted Unra with their fake titles and compensation is done. Again, the same block 93 where the Catholic shrine is, Mr Obey got the titles on the same piece of land and claims have been passed on to Unra and Unra seems to have recognised it and we are asking for the titles to be recalled and cancelled.
We, therefore, request the commission to go on with the investigations and verify all titles issued on this land before any payments are being made. Otherwise, we will suffer irrecoverable damages if these dubious payments are made at our own expense. And our humble prayer to the commission is that, ‘make all necessary recommendations to enable the payments of all dues that are by law ours.’
Kasirye: Is there any other thing you would like to add?
Kyewalabye: The issue with Kampala northern bypass, Unra took titles and has not returned them. Unfortunately, the Kabaka’s land titles comprise huge chunks of land, like 300-600 acres of land. Unra takes land titles and takes ages without returning them and this affects other tenants on the Kabaka’s land.
Kasirye: Do you know how much Unra is supposed to pay Buganda Land Board?
Kyewalabye: Yes, my lord. It is close to Shs 10 billion.
Kasirye: And do you know the acreage of land to be compensated?
Kyewalabye: Yes, my lord. It is close to 70 acres of land. And if Unra fails to pay the Buganda Land Board in the given time we have given them, then the matter will be taken to court.
Mongati: Mr Kyewalabye, I just want clarification. The normal procedure is that when they are paying kibanja owners, the mailo owner or superior owner must approve. Has this been done?
Kyewalabye: In some cases, my lord, but not all.
Mongati: So, are you saying that bibanja owners have been paid sometimes without the consent of the owner?
Kyewalabye: Yes, my lord.
Mongati: Do you know these cases?
Kyewalabye: Yes, my lord. We have evidence, for instance on the Mpigi-Maddu road, but I think they are quite a number of them.
Nkata: Is the Kabaka’s land, wherever it is available, well demarcated? Are there maps and plans one can see?
Kyewalabye: Yes, my lord. We have titles and in some areas the boundaries have been opened, but various consultants have been involved in these processes. They know how best you can arrive at this.
Nkata: For the interest of the general public, do people know where the Kabaka’s land starts and stops, especially in the central region?
Kyewalabye: Yes, my lord, they do.
Nkata: Soon Salama road is going to be worked on and I am aware that there are multiple land tenures on that road and the issue that has always been contagious is people claiming that they are on Kabaka’s land. Then there are also princesses and royals on that land that claim that it is their land and also landowners. Has this matter been clarified because, as the Munyonyo road will be worked on, this matter is likely to delay the public good because of that unclear demarcation of land? Can you assure the public that this matter has been sorted?
Kyewalabye: Thank you, my lord. As you are aware, the Kabaka is a land title holder, not kibanjas holder; so, once it is titled land, it is very clear with demarcations and we work with land surveyors. And even the various royals who hold land, they are also indicated on the titles and the 1993 Act that invested the land to Kabaka indicates the royals; either it’s the Namasole, Katikkiro, Omulamuzi. But once we have the titles, that is no problem.
We have always requested Unra to work with Buganda Land Board when it comes to Kabaka’s land. The Kabaka is a very big landlord, not somebody who just holds two or three acres of land. We are very committed to this because we are interested parties to the development of this country and, in any case, when these roads are done, the Kabaka benefits more because it uplifts the value of the land.
Bamugemereire: Thank you very much and we appreciate that you have found the commission useful in assisting you to investigate this matter further. We will do our best and I hope that you find the answers.