Ms Nabakooba said the plans include adding security features on the land application form and title and fully digitalising the system.
“We shall engage stakeholders in the process because these are ideas that we bring up. You know anything to do with changing the form in land registration, you need to go through senior management, and top management, and it starts with the user department,” Ms Nabakooba said during a meeting with land officers from different districts in Kampala on Friday last week.
She added: “Then we shall also look at the features of the title. Can we enhance them? What can we do, because you realise that forged titles look like [the authentic ones]? You might even check and the signature appears the same but when you check in records, the file [does not exist].”
The minister said currently the application forms for a land title only provide for a signature and the name of the area land committee and neighbours, which can easily be forged much as they are known in the area.
She added that either of the two documents should include new security features such as photos of the signatories, a national identification number (NIN) thumbprint and a signature that can be scanned.
Ms Nabakooba said if the plan goes through they intend to start by changing the application form since it is easy to amend and gazette.
“Forgery begins with the application form, especially public and government land because the forms are filled by the District Land Board and the area land committed,” Ms Nabakooba said.
In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, Ms Nabakooba said the ministry is digitising its system to make it more transparent. She said this process will hopefully be concluded by the end of the year.
“Because each detail is in the computer, the person (applying for a land title) will have information and will not be cheated. People are cheated because the information is not readily available,” Ms Nabakooba said.
The minister added that the new system would allow the public to apply for land titles online.
“Remember, if there is transparency, there is a clear timeline, people will know that for such a title I need two weeks or a month,” Ms Nabakooba said.
She added that in case of any issues, the public should visit the land office for assistance.
However, Mr Angelo Hudson, the senior staff land surveyor at the Ministry of Lands, said: “With corruption, land agents and brokers use the names of land officers to obtain money from the public when the officers are not aware.”
“We are changing land registration requirements this year starting with the application forms because most of the trouble arises from the forms. Every time forms are being filled in a fraudulent way, definitely the title will have a problem. People sign the form and then later deny that it is not their signature and that they were not even present at the meeting.
So, when it comes from the land committee and district land boards it spoils the entire registration process because when someone denies, it means everything that was done is wrong. So, when they brought that complaint we decided that we are going to sit and amend the forms, the amendment process is not difficult. It is just sitting and going through the process and if we are all in agreement then we gazette the form.
We just want the form to have other additional features to enhance its safety and also authenticity so that people are unable to forge signatures. The title will remain the same but we want more features. For example when an elderly person signs and maybe the signature is invalid or not accepted when they put their thumbprint and photo, they can still proceed with what they want to do.
So thumbprint and authentic photos can be captured on the equipment just like you see the banks and immigration for our non-information system to be enhanced in terms of security but also our records. So that in future if one comes and says ‘that’s not me, I didn’t append my signature’ we are able to provide evidence.
That is to do with the certificate itself, printing it, where they put the barcode, the phone number; but now we are talking about the process and the people who are involved because these people might not be known, the title will come in my names and contact but in case it is challenged then that process has to be examined. That is why we are saying we need to enhance the entire process of registration up to the final point of titling. However, I am going to find out if those features are now included.”
Docus Okalany, PS, Lands ministry, “The Land Information Management System is meant to protect the land owner. The NIN is a unique identifier. We [also] want the photograph of the land owner to be on the land title. We are also introducing SMS alerts.
Babra Kahima, banker, “It will reduce forgeries that are happening at the Lands ministry right now. Other systems also need to be integrated and this should have happened before so that the hospitals, driving permit and other government entities benefit from it.”
Sheila Kawamara, ED, EASSI, “This will reduce incidents of fraud where people present false documents and the owner of the land cannot be identified. In fact the land titles should be made electronic and all other security documents also harmonised with it.”
Charles Ntale, business consultant, “The more secure the document, the better and this is going to increase the security of the land title. Unfortunately they are not going to give it the publicity it deserves.”
Fred Muhumuza, economist, “There is a lot of faking of land titles going on. This is also going to help government to know who owns what property because right now the national identity card is linked to banks, phones.”