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Land Probe: Surveys Departments Corrupt

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Richard Masereje, the president of the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda told the Commission that the cost of surveying could be much lower if corruption at the District and National Surveys departments was eliminated.
Richard Masereje, President of the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda President, while appearing before the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters.

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The commission of inquiry into land matters has heard that there is massive corruption at every stage of lands survey in Uganda. 

Surveyors told the Justice Bamugemereire-led commission that they are often forced to pay bribes in order to have their papers cleared for land titles.

Richard Masereje, the president of the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda told the Commission today that the cost of surveying would be much lower if corruption at the District and National Surveys departments was eliminated.

Similarly, Dr Ronald Sengendo, a member of the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda executive told the commission that it is almost impossible for any surveyor to process a land title right from the district staff surveyor's office.

He said that most surveyors are forced to pay the bribes or wait for a very long time before the job is done adding that in some instances the surveyors' files are hidden by secretaries or the district staff surveyors until when they are bribed. 

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The Commission Chairperson, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire had earlier asked Sengendo about what drives the surveyors to pay the bribes.

Sengendo said surveyors were also facing a lot of problems with the National Land Information System (LIS). The system is a multi-million dollar project funded by the World Bank to computerize Uganda's Land Registry. It has been running since 2013.

Dr Sengendo told the commission that most times they have found that the measurements that surveyors make on the ground don't tally with those on the lands registry. 

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The Institute of Surveyors of Uganda, President Richard Masereje told the commission that the National Land Information System has led to a lot of distortions that may not be easy to streamline in the near future.

Masereje said he has a case of land on Sir Apollo Kaggwa road in Kampala, where the system had changed the plot number and all the dimensions on the same land had reduced.

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The Institute Of Surveyors allegations seem to be backed by a testimony of Kampala Lawyer, Peter Mulira, who called for the seizure of all the land titles at the Land registry. He said the National Land Information System (LIS) project has been used a ploy to grab land from unsuspecting land owners.

Justice Catherine Bamugemereire promised to probe further into the allegations.

The Commission also heard that majority of the Surveyors on government departments do not qualify to do surveys in Uganda because they have never been approved by the surveys Board as required by law. Masereje and Dr Sengendo said only 109 out of over 1000 surveyors in the country are recognized by the Surveyors Registration Board.