Monday, March 24, 2008

Uganda: 'Quack Surveyors Fueling Land Conflicts'

The Monitor (Kampala)
24 March 2008
Yasiin Mugerwa

The ongoing landing land conflicts in the country have been blamed on the increased number of unqualified land surveyors who have deliberately failed to adhere to professional standards.

Addressing journalists in Kampala on Thursday, Mr John Musungu, the Chairman of Surveyors Registration Board - a government regulatory body charged with the professional registration of surveyors, said 99 per cent of land conflicts are sparked off by unregistered surveyors.

"We are concerned because improper surveys have exacerbated land conflicts in many different parts of the country and has sometimes resulted into bloodshed," Mr Musungu said.

"Mistakes are done during boundary openings and the problem is serious due to increased number of 'undercover' surveyors."

The government's remarks come after various surveyors, mainly Makerere University graduates, accused the board of not considering them even after they have fulfilled the registration requirements.

Mr Joseph Serunjogi alleged that after graduating in 2000 from Makerere University and applying for registration twice with "all the requirements," his application was rejected by the board.

Dr Mukiibi Katende, the head of the Land Surveying department at Makerere University said Uganda has produced over 650 graduates of land surveying since 1994, when the first batch of the four-year course graduated.

He said the university produces an average of 40 graduates annually.

Kaddu Mugerwa, another unregistered surveyor, said majority of the surveyors are unregistered. He alleged that at times, the board threatens to deregister companies or individuals who act as referees to new applicants.

But Mr Musungu said; "As regulators, it will be unfit for us to send dangerous people to the public."

"We can not give certificates to people without experience. The problem of land conflicts is already at the extreme because of inexperienced surveyors and that's why we are going to clamp down on them. We have procedures and they should be followed," he added.

Mr Musungu explained that for one to become a registered surveyor, he or she must have worked for two years. They must also have done survey work supervised by a registered firm.

"It's not a matter of having a degree. We have procedures to follow before one is registered. One must be a member of the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda, graduate of surveying and practiced in the field for two years under the supervision of a registered. We only approve those who meet these requirements," Mr Musungu said.

The government is drafting a new bill seeking to amend the Surveyors Registration Act that will empower the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda to set special exams for surveyors.

"If we are to curb land conflicts, there should be no short cuts to quality and this is the same practice in Kenya and Tanzania. One can only pass these exams when he or she has the required experience," Mr Cyprian Inyanga, one of the Board members said.

Commenting on number of registered surveyors, Mr Musungu said out of the 650, only 56 are registered members of the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda, a professional body for surveyors in the country.