The Government has temporarily taken over the ownership of unregistered land until the owners come forward and have it registered.
The revelation was made by Jean-Baptiste Mukarage, the Director of Land Administration Unit at Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority on January 10, 2021, as he appeared on Radio Rwanda.
In 2019, landowners were given until December 31, 2020, to register their land. At least 1,561,201 parcels of land countrywide were unregistered, prompting a temporary takeover.
Mukarage revealed that as of December 31, 2020, the government had repossessed over 1.4 million plots of land countrywide.
At least 423 or 7 per cent of the total 31,000 private parcels of land in the City of Kigali was seized, 503,000 Southern Province and 399,000 parcels in Western Province.
In the Northern Province, the government took over 303,000 parcels and 261,000 parcels in the Eastern province.
The land registration process, which kicked off in 2009 culminated with the registration of 11.5 million parcels in 2013.
“Some landowners are negligent while others deliberately refuse to register their properties to evade taxes,” Mukarage said, explaining that there also cases where people were illegally taking government land. “Those who illegally took over state land fear being exposed in case they go to register the land in their names.”
There are also landowners who deliberately hide their properties, Mukarage disclosed.
“We have temporarily taken over this unregistered land until the owners come and have it registered. It is not our target to take over the land but if it is not registered we have to take it as state land,” he said.
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The lands authority will reassess the reasons why those currently utilizing the land did not register it and then set a new registration deadline.
“We will assess those currently using the land if the land is there or not. It might be the land of a person used by another person probably because it was abandoned by owners. Some might be exploiting state land,” he said.
For people who own land in Rwanda but live abroad, he noted, they should work with Rwandan embassies in the respective countries and assign a person who can help in registering their land.
He added that the land in dispute should be reported to the concerned institutions.
Mukarage also told residents who sell unregistered land.
The officials said the already state land has been separated from the land that the government has taken over.
The government has over 500,000 plots of land, he added.