Lands Ministry closes Bukalasa office after thugs attack

The Bukalasa Zonal Lands Office is responsible for administering land in Luwero, Nakaseke, and Nakasongola districts.

State Minister for Lands Mr Sam Mayanja after visiting Bukalasa Lands Zonal Offices that were broken into by unknown thugs. PHOTO URN

LUWERO, UGANDA: The Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development has temporarily closed the Bukalasa Land Zonal Offices in Luwero district following an attack by armed thugs who took off with office equipment in the process.

According to reports, it is alleged that the thugs in the wee hours of Wednesday morning broke into the building housing the offices, handcuffed the unarmed guards and proceeded to ransack the premises, stealing various land files and four computers.

The yet-to-be-identified thugs also vandalized the Closed-circuit television (CCTV) system.

The Luwero District Police Commander, Living Twazagye on Thursday said that police were alerted to the attack at approximately 3 am but unfortunately, the culprits had already fled the scene before their arrival.

Twazagye noted a security lapse at the offices, saying that the private guards on duty lacked firearms to repel the attack.

Christopher Ssanyu, the Principal Assistant Secretary at Bukalasa Lands Zonal Office, explained that while the thugs managed to steal four computers and some land files, they were unable to breach the strong room where land titles are securely stored.

The perpetrators also failed to access the server room, ensuring the safety of the data pertaining to people’s land titles. As a result of the incident, operations at the office have been suspended until the conclusion of the police investigation and necessary repairs and replacements can be carried out by the Ministry.

The motive behind the raid and the specific data and land files that went missing is yet to be determined. Currently, the National Lands Information Center has temporarily shut down the server for Bukalasa Lands offices pending the completion of the investigation.

The State Minister for Lands, Sam Mayanja, visited the Bukalasa Lands Zonal offices on Wednesday to assess the damage and said that the Ministry will prioritize reopening the offices promptly to prevent any disruption to other sectors of the economy.

He acknowledged the security lapse at the zonal offices and announced plans to ensure that all Ministry Zonal Offices are guarded by officers from the Very Important Persons Protection Unit (VIPPU), similar to other key government installations.

Mayanja further emphasized that due to the government’s recent upgrade of the zonal offices, it would be difficult to steal data or land titles. In the event that any were taken during the break-in, the Ministry would be capable of replacing them.

It is worth noting that since 2015, the Ministry of Lands has converted 23 land offices into ministerial zonal offices, aiming to enhance service delivery.

One such zonal office is the Bukalasa Zonal Lands Office which is charged with administering land in Luwero, Nakaseke, and Nakasongola districts. Officials at the zonal office claim that more than 150 clients turn up for different land transaction services per day.

With support from a World Bank loan of USD 200 million, a computerized Land Information System (LIS) was introduced within these zonal offices to streamline processes such as property titling, land registration, and administration.

However, complaints regarding issues such as double titling of land, delayed issuance of land titles, and staff corruption have persisted, requiring continued efforts to address these challenges.

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