UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Boundary opening is important because usually, land owners have a general idea of where their property lines are but have no exact knowledge. It is therefore important to accurately establish the boundaries with the use of a surveyor.
Joseph Kimbowa, a team leader of communications at Buganda Land Board, narrates an incident where a surveyor survived being killed by a mob during a boundary opening exercise in Kyaggwe.
He reports that the angry mob consisted of squatters on the land whose boundaries were to be opened, and yet the land is owned by a person known to them.
At the arrival of the surveyor and his team, the residents felt threatened that whatever they were doing was leading to eviction from the land they had occupied for more than 30 years.
The surveyor revealed that the proprietor who hired him to open boundaries only intended to know the tenants on his land and the extent of his title to the land. He also wanted to use the other unoccupied part of the land for cultivation.
Kimbowa says that people usually mistake surveyors for land grabbers. They are quick to mobilise resistance the moment they see people with survey machines.
He blames these actions on poor communication and misconception about boundary opening.
He gave an example of Buganda Kingdom land, which has spent more than 30 years in the hands of the government and for which Uganda Land Commission issued leases to individuals on big pieces of land.
The individuals that were issued leases were, however, absentee landlords, which attracted encroachers of their land. The encroachers were legalised as bonafide occupants by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 with the requirement that they had been on the land for 12 years before 1995.
He reveals that this land was then returned to the Mengo administration in 1993 and 2013.
“When the time comes and a leaseholder wants to utilise that land, as administrators of the Kingdom land, Buganda Land Board first asks them to conduct a boundary opening exercise to ensure that interests of the bonafide occupants are catered for. This is done to ensure that the new owner only takes possession of or utilises the unencumbered land,” Mr Kimbowa noted.
He gave an instance of someone who received a title of 100 acres from the Uganda Land Commission in 1980, but 40 acres are encumbered currently. The new owner is advised to only take possession of the unencumbered 40 acres. The bonafide occupants should pay annual nominal ground rent to the landlord.
He emphasises that the utilising of the unencumbered portion of the land is possible only if there was an opening of boundaries which some people unfortunately think is a way to evict them and they end up attacking the surveyors.
He reveals other instances in which the opening of boundaries is crucial when the land in question borders a protected area such as a wetland or another physical feature considered public land.
He says this is where many people resist boundary opening because they think they will be evicted from a protected area or a neighbour’s portion they encroached on.
He concluded by urging police and local council authorities to sensitise their communities about the boundary opening activities.
“In Ugandan land laws, a land owner of Mailo land and a bonafide occupant both have land interests. If a landowner wants to survey their land, this should not be seen as criminal or a plot to evict the kibanja holder,” he said.
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