Kitgum Town Council Stuck with Provisional Land Lease for MATIP Market

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In short
Ojara says the offer jointly covered site of the old existing market and the new proposed site for the market extension. The two blocks are separated by a street, Akwang Road making it practically impossible to process a single land title for both.

Kitgum district land board has finally accepted the application of Kitgum Town Council for a lease offer of an estimated 0.54 hectares of prime land required for the construction of a modern market after years of struggle.
 
The board granted the offer on February 21 after considering the second corrected application that the council submitted in January 2014.
 
Although authorities of the Town Council have welcomed the development, they are unhappy with the nature of the certificate of lease offer submitted to the council by the district land officer.
 
Ojara Richard Okwera, the Kitgum Town Council LC3 chairperson says the provisional lease has conjoined two different incompatible blocks of land together and complicated the acquiring the actual land title required for the construction of the MATIP funded market.
 
Ojara says the offer jointly covered site of the old existing market and the new proposed site for the market extension. The two blocks are separated by a street, Akwang Road making it practically impossible to process a single land title for both.
 
He is demanding that the lease offer be corrected to allow council proceeds with the acquisition of land title ahead of a new deadline.
 
But Abonga Alfred Alexis, the focal spokesperson and MATIP Project Support Officer for Kitgum Town Council says they have undertaken several processes towards the success of the project. He says they are getting nearer to the actual land title every day.
 
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The provisional lease offer was written and handed over to the council ahead of a planned visit by a delegation of African Development Bank and the Ministry of local government officials.
 
Council leased the old market to private developers for 49 years.
 
Several deadlines given to the council to process and submit the land title as proof of ownership of the land have passed without much success. A letter dated December 16th 2009, signed by John Kashaka Muhanguzi, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of local government instructed Kitgum Town Council to submit the title deeds by the end of January 2010 to enable the Ministry proceed with the detailed designs, construction and final approval of the project.
 
Up until now, the title has eluded the developing council that is facing threats of missing the entire project or being pushed to the last phase of the project that has constructed modern trade facilities in several towns across the country including neighbouring Gulu, Lira, Hoima, Kampala among others.
 
But Abonga Alexis, the Kitgum Town Council Engineer who is the official spokesperson of the MATIP Project says council has come a long way and cannot afford to miss the development. He says they spent a whooping 21.9 million shillings in compensating land owners at the proposed site.
 
Abonga says they are scrutinizing the lease, gathering missing documents and making wider consultations on the next course of action to take. He is still uncertain whether council will have to submit fresh application for lease.
 
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Government wants to build the market with part of the 70 Million US dollar loans from the African Development Bank and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa. The loans were acquired for the development of Markets for Agricultural and Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP).
 
Irene Achola, the district Physical Planner told the press that it is not easy to process title for the conjoined blocks under short deadlines since council lacks a deep plan for one block.

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.