Land owners who allowed roads to be constructed through their land have petitioned the government to waive taxes and rates that are charged on such properties.
The land owners said their attempts to apply for modification were thwarted by high fees charged on such transactions.
Land owners in parts of the country told Rwanda Today they required to pay annual land rates and related local government taxes on portions of land allocated for construction of road projects, electricity or water transmission lines.
However, their pleas for exemption were yet to be heard.
Faustin Nshimiyimana, a resident of Rulindo district lost close to 150 square metres of land to road construction when local authorities expanded the road network three years ago.
However, the section he lost to the road since remains on his land title as his own, and pays Rwf7,500 in taxes annually despite not being able to use the land.
The nationwide concerns are prevalent in Rwamagana, Kamonyi, Musanze and Rubavu, where landowners decried incurring taxes on sections of parcels they are unable to use after they were allocated to accommodating public infrastructures.
“We all willingly gave out a few metres for the road construction, and only those who had valuable assets on the land were allowed to file for compensation. The major concern now is we incur taxes for the chunk we don’t use, and authorities want us to pay for the costs of modifying the land titles,” Mr Nshimiyimana said.
Mr Nshimiyimana said they only get approval for modification after paying Rwf30,000 in addition to transfer fees.
Residents find the fees prohibitive especially for many low income earners in rural areas, who said the fees is higher that the value of what the land can generate in income.
Felix Nkundimana, a resident of Rwamagana told Rwanda Today the fee was a barrier not only for those seeking to register such modifications but also all other land transactions.
Local officials, however, said the charges are supposed to ensure that land data is regularly updated as parties made no effort to register modifications and other transactions of land at the time they happen.
Experts argued that the concerns about the high cost of land transaction affects the long-term viability of the country’s formal land registration system. A World Bank Land governance assessment showed that the high cost of formalising subdivisions had led to the high level of informal land transactions.
Jean Claude Musabyimana, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land and Forestry told Rwanda Today that much as the fees could be an issue, some landowners ignored the procedures for registering modifications on their land.
“There is a need to encourage the landowners that it is in their interest to have every modification done on their property registered on time. You cannot convince me how a landowner fails to register the modification on his or her land parcel after receiving Rwf500000 compensation for a few metres allocated to a road,” he said.
Mr Musabyimana, however, said the government would look into the concerns raised. Members on land working group have urged the government to identify individual parcels of land with infrastructures such as roads, electricity poles, water facilities, buffer zones along the roads and expropriated land and remove them from individual land certificates.