Govt close to recovering stolen public land

Wednesday July 10 2019

land

Government is set to recover more than 658, 599 land parcels from grabbers and illegal occupants. PHOTO | SEARCH 

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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The government is set to recover more than 658,599 land parcels from grabbers and illegal occupants as it finalises the recovery exercise, which is expected to help save costs incurred in securing land for projects.

The latest statistics from the audit team that has been repossessing state land show a total of 619,552 land parcels were successfully reclaimed and captured in the land registry while an additional 39,047 land parcels were still involved in disputes with the occupants.

Officials were yet to determine the exact size of the total parcels earmarked for recovery and their respective use, but they said they would be enough to save the government large sums of money used to buy land for strategic investments across sectors such tourism, agriculture, industry and real estate development.

“When we embarked on the recovery exercise in September last year, were focused on securing the land first.

Details on the sizes and how it will be managed is something we intend to look at in the next phase,” said Grace Nishimwe, head of the land administration department at Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA).

The agency, which initially put the number of land parcels for recovery at 156,772 land parcels, now says it identified more than 428,216 land parcels across the country.

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A big chunk of the land still had no ownership information in the land registry more than six years after the country formally implemented land tenure regularisation and registration.

Ms Nishimwe told Rwanda Today that the lack of ownership information on most land parcels had not only seen government lose them to grabbers and illegal occupants, but also hindered compliance with land use plan over the years.

The trend had become a source of unnecessary conflicts especially in Districts in the Southern Province, which official figures show make up a huge chunk of illegally occupied and grabbed government land.

The province alone was found to have over 180,000 land parcels of which the audit team registered 171,521 parcels.

Another chunk of public land was found in the Northern Province with over 127,618 parcels out of which 46,751 were registered.

RLMUA still counts thousands of hectares of public land to be illegally held by people who insist they are the rightful owners either having bought them from the previous owners or registered them as their own and later developed them.

Their cases are set to be assessed individually before the audit team can propose the next course of action to be taken by the government.

Rwanda Today learnt that the recovered land parcels would be added to the database of land reserves that can potentially be assigned to investors or serve to compensate owners in expropriation for public interest projects.

This also eases pressure on local government administrative entities as they work towards acquisition of land to facilitate potential investment and other projects as part of the land banking strategy.

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