So far the goings on at the Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the Uganda National Roads Authority are eye-popping openers about the rot in our society.
Over the past decade, government has committed itself to develop infrastructure, most importantly the construction of roads to ease and enhance trade and commerce in the country, and ordinarily one would expect that the most controversial issues laid before the Commission by the witnesses would involve bribery, shoddy works, overlooking of completion timelines and non-payment of workers among other anomalies.
But alas! This is not to be, at least for now.
Instead, the most ‘interesting’ and controversial information that has come up before the Commission is in relation to the issue of compensation made to individual beneficiaries for land acquisition, (for the Entebbe Express Highway and the Hoima-Kaisotonya road) in order to pave the way for road construction works to begin uninterrupted.
Indeed, the said land acquisition processes seem to be laced with a ‘complex weave of intentional blunders’ that one can be spared for harbouring a notion that calls for the establishment of another Commission of Inquiry, this time one to delve into matters pertaining to the entire (mal) administration and (mis) management of land in the country. If ever published for public consumption, that report by the Commissioners would make an interesting read!
That noted, for a long time the media has carried reports of dubious land transactions, with a recent report indicating that 100 Land Titles, some of them for areas found in wetlands, were to be cancelled. Much as we cannot sympathise with the victims of that ‘land short-changing’, many of them tend to point fingers at the Land Registry and the different District Land Boards (Mukono and Wakiso?), claiming that the dirty work takes place in those particular offices; such accusations are grave and call for tougher measures to rein in the errant public officials.
Unfortunately, even the Inspector General of Police’s creation of a Land Protection Unit in the force has failed to nail the culprits involved in the dubious land deals, leaving very many landowners at the mercy of land grabbers, who are spurred on by the wayward public officials entrusted with the (mis)management of land in Uganda.
Well, just for the record, the country may need another Commission of Inquiry, specifically that of land matters.