The Ministry of Lands and Forestry will soon embark on an exercise to register all public land and secure respective land titles following a recommendation by the parliamentary Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and Fight against Genocide.
While appearing before the committee to clarify cases of land disputes between government and citizens in Nyaruguru District in Southern Province on Thursday, the Minister for Land and Forestry, Francine Tumushime, said that there are several pieces of public land which have been grabbed by citizens, and these need to be reclaimed.
“While individuals are always ready to have their land registered and acquire titles, local authorities have been somehow reluctant in having public land in their jurisdictions registered and this has seen chunks of public land grabbed by those in the vicinity,” she told the legislators.
Tumushime told the committee that some people have grabbed the land, craftily had it registered to their names and went on to build houses or plant trees on it.
“Government is spending large sums of money on expropriation which in some cases wouldn’t be necessary if the government had its own land that would even be used to compensate those that have been expropriated in the interest of the public,” she said.
The committee recommended that government makes a comprehensive audit of all public land in the country and secure the title deeds.
The committee chair, Francois Byabarumwanzi, observed that when land is not registered, it becomes vulnerable to grabbers, which he said may eventually lead to communal conflict.
“Let all public land be mapped out from citizens’ land so that those that may want to use it for production can lease it well knowing that it does not belong to them,” said Byabarumwanzi.
Tumushime promised to dispatch teams to work with districts where land disputes are rampant, especially in Nyagatare and Nyaruguru districts.
She added that districts are to take full charge of the mapping of all public land in their jurisdictions and have all of it registered.