Kampala businessman Gaster Lule, popularly known as Ntake, and two surveyors were quizzed on Thursday over a disputed 15-acre land occupied by more than 50 people in Birongo-Kitiko village in Makindye-Sabagabo, Wakiso District.
The commission of inquiry into land matters sitting at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Wakiso, separately interrogated Mr Lule, Wakiso District staff surveyor, Joseph Batume Kizito, and Mr Stanley Luwandagga Bemba, a private surveyor from Arial Environ Consultants Ltd, over the land dispute.
Appearing before the seven-member commission headed by Court of Appeal Judge Catherine Bamugemereire, Mr Lule said the land in dispute is part of the 30 acres he bought in 2010 from architect William Sentoogo without carrying out any due diligence.
The commission is inquiring into the law, processes and procedures in land acquisition, land administration and management in the country.
Mr Lule, who said he could not remember the price at which he bought the said land, told the commission that the 30 acres sit on two separate blocks, and he admitted relying on assurances by the seller, whom he said he trusted on account of his age and profession.
“We paid for 30 acres on two land titles and the assurance was that the entire land was free but at the time of developing it, I discovered that part of my land was occupied. I tried to speak to the encroachers on my land peacefully but they said they had titles; for instance, Milton Bukanzi had a genuine title,” he said.
Describing the survey process as a complex matter, Mr Lule, who was armed with a survey report, told the commission that there were only 12 people occupying the land by 2016. He accused Mr Sentoogo of declining to participate in the resolution of the dispute despite several demands.
But in a separate appearance, Dr Kizito dismissed Mr Lule’s survey report as a sham.
“The report is not clear as it does not indicate who instructed the survey and whether there was a dispute on the land or not. And the manner in which Mr Lule requested for a survey does not show that there was a dispute and the report is poor because the surveyor did not do the job as required to show encumbrances and overlaps. The land buyer and the surveyor did not interrogate the problems on ground,” Dr Kizito said.
When questioned on his work, Mr Bemba angered the commission when he said he did not go to the ground to settle people’s disputes but rather to do measurements and survey the land.
Mr Bemba was also quizzed on why he is not registered as required by law, and why he issued an incomplete report and delivered an incompetent work to his client.
“You are the type of surveyors who cause people to carry pangas (machetes) and sticks to beat up others,” Justice Bamugemereire said.
Asked why the people declined to sign for their presence, Mr Bemba kept quiet, prompting the commission to propose that another report be done to reflect the people on ground rather than recommending that they are shifted to the swamp.
Asked whether Mr Lule was duped during the purchase of the land, which is occupied, Mr Bemba answered in the affirmative.
“But in my report, I said the cadastral map be amended to represent that there are people on ground.”