Government takes over ownership of 1.5 million unregistered land parcels

On 11 January 2021 at 01:11

The Government of Rwanda has temporarily taken over a total of 1,499,845 unregistered lands until owners complete registration processes, Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA) has revealed.

The decision to repossess the land went into effect on 1st January 2021.

The decision raised mixed reactions despite Government’s repeated reminders to the public on registration deadline.

The Director of Land Administration Unit at RLMUA, Jean Baptiste Mukarage has told IGIHE that the land will be registered to the Government temporarily as they wait for owners to get them registered.

“The Government has taken over a total of 1,499,845 plots of land. These include 31, 997 in Kigali City; 503 274 in Southern Province, 399, 305 in Western Province; 303,383 in Northern Province and 261 886 in Eastern Province,” he said.

Mukarage explained that such lands remain unregistered for various reasons whereby some owners don’t value the activity, try to evade tax while others don’t have identities or lack basic documents to have lands registration.

Other reasons include people exploiting Government’s lands for free fearing to get them registered and others unwilling to expose their wealth.

Mukarage revealed that owners will continue to utilize their unregistered land before the Government communicates further decision.

“People will continue to register their lands presenting ownership documents obtained from cell’s land committees in collaboration with sectors’ officials,” he said.

Mukarage has underscored that deeper analysis will be conducted to understand why each plot of land is not registered before taking further decisions.

He said that the Government might take full ownership of unregistered lands if concerned people continue to keep quiet without claims to complete the registration process.

The Government of Rwanda launched land registration in 2009 completed 2013 but some people have not yet registered their properties.

In January 2020, RLMUA released a statement informing the general public that everyone should have registered his/her land within six months.

The deadline set on 30th June 2020 was extended to 30th December 2020 due to COVID-19. The institution revealed that unregistered land would be considered abandoned properties after the deadline.

Commenting on the deadline that was set towards the end of December 2020, the Director General of RLMUA, Esperance Mukamana explained that Rwanda has no gain in taking over people’s land and encouraged land owners to rush for registration.

“The Government has nothing to gain from taking over anyone’s property. We want people to do the necessary to register their land. If you fail to do so, the Government will temporarily takeover the land and return it when you have had it registered,” she said.

Mukamana explained that people registering the land temporarily owned by the Government will not be subject to fines and pointed out advantages of land registration.

“Land registration has played a critical role in solving land related disputes. For instance, land dispute cases taken to court have reduced. Moreover, land owners can use their land documents to acquire bank loans,” noted Mukamana.

The article 20 of the Law No 43/2013 of 16/06/2013 determining land use in Rwanda shows that land registration is obligatory.

Figures from RLMUA show that 9,965,648 plots of land have been registered since 2009 when the land registration exercise began that remaining ones without registration equal to 1,561,201 across the country.

The article 20 of the Law No 43/2013 of 16/06/2013 determining land use in Rwanda shows that land registration is obligatory.