Members of Parliament in Lango have expressed mixed reactions over the proposed bill that seeks to amend article 26 of the 1995 constitution by inserting a clause that will enable government to compulsorily acquire land for public projects even if its owner reject government land valuation.
Felix Okot Ogong, the Dokolo South Member of Parliament sharply opposes the bill. He says the government is planning to grab land from its citizens. As a people’s representative, Okot said he will fight using all ways to see that the bill is not passed.
“We will hold demonstrations, we will mobilize people against this move by the government to steal people’s land”.
When asked whether the proposed land bill was discussed in the NRM caucus, Okot said it was only mentioned but people were not allowed to discuss. NRM legislator said the proposed amendment is a plot by the cabinet, not the NRM to grab private land.
Paul Amoro Omiat, the Dokolo North member of Parliament however noted that leaders are over politicizing the proposed amendment. Amoro who is in support of the bill, noted that the NRM government will not grab the citizen’s land as he said is being insinuated by the opposition politicians.
“Ever since I was young, a section of leaders who subscribe to the opposition political parties have been saying government will grab people’s land.. But up to now I haven’t yet seen that”- he said. He concluded that land belongs to the people and they will translate the bill to the citizens in depth, and seek for their opinions adding that no leader in his sane mind will allow the government grab people’s land.
Dokolo Woman Member of Parliament Cecilia Ogwal also opposes the proposed land amendment bill. Speaking on a televised interview earlier this week, Ogwal said the proposed bill is solely to forcefully grab land people in the Northern and Eastern Uganda. ” Buganda doesn’t have land,.. they were all taken. it’s the people from the North and East that are being targeted by the government.” She said.
The Erute South parliamentary representative, Jonathan Odur wonders why the government will be in a rush not to negotiate and compensate the land owner before starting to work on his land.
“You know how the proposed bill will work, government will come to the land owner with their valuer, the price the valuer prescribes will be the money given to the land owner; now if the land owner refuses, government will take the money to court while they continue working on your land…” Odur said.
“We know the government doesn’t respect court orders, even if you win from court, they will not obey the order. For instance we saw it in cases like cattle compensation, police brutality and many other things that the government lost, they haven’t up to now paid the complainants”. He added.
Other MPs who have voiced concerns against the bill include Charles Angiru Gutmoi(Erute North) and Joy Atim Ongom(Lira woman MP).
While defending the bill, Lands and Urban Development minister Betty Amongi on Tuesday said Government lost USD 97 million about Shillings 349billion in the past two financial years due to delayed implementation of infrastructure projects.
She said the money was lost in paying fines to contractors for idle machinery due to stalled projects because of compensation disagreements.
According to Amongi, the money spent on fines could have been used to finance other infrastructure projects. She explains that the proposed constitutional amendment bill 2017 will help government to mitigate such compensation scenarios that stall government projects and cause financial loss.