UGANDA, Wakiso | Real Muloodi News | A week after the Wakiso District Land Office was closed because of colossal fraud, Mr Sam Mayanja, the State Minister for Lands, reopened it and prohibited brokers from loitering outside all land offices across the country.
When the Wakiso land office reopened yesterday, it was made apparent that they had laid off a bulk number of former employees.
“This is the new staff. I tell you don’t share your passwords. We expect you to serve Ugandans well,” Ms Grace Kagoro, who is to digitize the lands ministry, said.
Mr Mayanja has frequently accused brokers of being behind the land office scam, stating they would not be permitted to conduct any transactions on behalf of anybody.
“Operations of the land registry and the data itself generate considerable land-related revenue to the government, especially if computerized. Losing control of the data can cause major revenue losses for the government,” he said.
“Therefore, the government can’t allow commercial vendors and hawkers near land registries and national land information centers as they can steal and profit from accessing registered and secured data, or even to sabotage the nation,” Mr Mayanja added.
The minister who first made a tour around the lands offices said that although the government introduced a computerized system to eliminate fraud, Wakiso land offices ignored it for unknown reasons.
The minister accused brokers of taking advantage of naïve Ugandans.
“Unfortunately, the unprofessional agents had turned the Wakiso and few other land registries in the country as places they can easily identify unsuspecting landowners who are ignorant of the land registration procedures and fees payable,” he said.
“Government has invested a lot of money in this system, but because some people here still want to benefit from corruption, they have not used it. We can’t allow this to go on,” Mr Mayanja added.
Minister Mayanja sent away all the staff and ordered Grace Kagoro, the head of the computerization process in the ministry, to give him a report on the planned reforms in the office by Friday.
“We shall call you via email or phone if we think we need your services. I will be back on Monday to reopen these offices, but with clear reforms in place,” the minister said.
Mr Mayanja further ordered the arrest of a man identified as Isma for impersonating a State House Anti-Corruption Unit staff at Wakiso land offices.
Wakiso RDC, Ms Justine Mbabazi, said that they contacted State House, denying Isma as their staff.
Mr Jude Wasswa, the head of Wakiso lands office, attributed the “rot” in his office to workers who are reportedly hired under what he described as “the powers that be.”
“Most of the workers here don’t want to listen. They don’t want to change and they tell you clearly you don’t have control since powerful people appointed them,” Mr Jude said.
Martha Komugisha, the titles registrar, begged the minister not to close the office because lately, the operation had improved.
“We have had a bad reputation, but we have been improving,” Ms Komugisha said.
To stem corruption, Mr Mayanja, last week in a meeting, told his staff that the ministry had advised him to sack everyone at the office because of land fraud.
This is not the first time Wakiso lands office is being closed and staff suspended over alleged fraud.
Following a public outcry over alleged connivance between officials and brokers to defraud people in land-related transactions, in 2018, security operatives from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit led by Col Edith Nakalema raided the lands registry offices in Wakiso District. Security operatives confiscated all gadgets in the office, arrested officials, brokers and clients found at the office.
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