Government withdraws controversial land amendment bill

Kenneth Kazibwe

Kenneth Kazibwe

, News

Government has withdrawn the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 after members of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs unanimously rejected it.

Article 26 of the Constitution allows government to acquire land for public use or in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health on condition that prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation prior to acquisition of the property and a right of access to court of law by the affected persons is made.

However, the Constitutional Amendment Bill before Parliament is seeking to amend article 26 to enable the central government or local government to compulsorily acquire land prior to payment of compensation.

The controversial Land Amendment 2017 that had been shelved for over a year after sparking public outrage had been last month re-introduced to the floor of parliament but in a turn of events has been withdrawn by government.

On Tuesday, the Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana moved a motion to withdraw the bill pending further consultation before returning it.

“Subsequent to its presenting for the first reading, government discovered that it required extensive consultations. I beg to move that this bill withdrawn pending further consultations,” Rukutana said during plenary on Tuesday.

The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah granted the request requested for by the Attorney General before the bill was withdrawn.

Last month, the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs which was tasked to consult and scrutinise the bill rejected it saying that the required amendments could be done through amendment of the Land Act but not the Constitution.

“In case there is need to prescribe the matters contained in the bill, these can be inserted in the Land Acquisitions Act since they are more suited there in light of the above.

The committee recommends that the bill is rejected and is not read the second time,” the parliamentary committee report read in part.

According to government the purpose of the Bill is to resolve the problem of delayed implementation of government infrastructure and investment projects due to disputes arising out of the compulsory land acquisition process.

Government also says the problem of delayed projects has caused significant financial loss to it in penal-ties paid to road contractors for redundant machinery at construction or project sites.

 

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