Dear customary land owners in new cities,

Lira City in Lango Sub-Region in Northern Uganda (Photo credit The Independent)

The creation of these new administrative structures does not defeat your rights over your land. Don’t be duped into converting your customary land into a leasehold. In the worst case scenario, you may (it’s not a must) convert it into freehold, especially for those parcels acquired individually.

The only issue you need to be mindful of is the Physical Development Plans in your city. For example, if your area is designated as an industrial park, do not construct residential houses. You equally can’t rear goats or cows in a residential area. But even then, the physical development plans have to be created in consultation with the people (the land owners) as per the law. Follow that process keenly when it commences.

Task your local leaders (Mayors, LC IIIs and Councillors), as well as technical personnel, to avail you the relevant information about physical planning. Ensure your voice is heard because those processes always cause wrangles between the locals and the government.

There are opportunities that these new cities may create, but at the same time, we have to be alive to the reality that some fraudulent people can manipulate the community for selfish gains. Protect your land.

You don’t need to sell it in order to get money to buy land and settle elsewhere as some people are doing. You don’t need to convert it to another tenure. You can safely own your customary land in a city, because the tenure is recognised under the law. What is only regulated is the land use.

Don’t become a victim!

Yours sincerely, Advocate Jonathan Ochom

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