Urban Property Registration Bill on the Horizon



A draft bill that will enable the government to undertake land and real property registration, in all urban areas nationwide, will be tabled to the Council of Ministers, by January, Fortune has learnt.

If ratified; the bill will require all urban residents to register any property for which they have a land use right. This can be done by presenting land deeds, or equivalent proof, to an assigned government body. Any immovable property, such as buildings erected on the land, are also required to be registered.

The registering government body will survey the land, match the title deed with their own land information system, and finally issue a title certificate or book. These will serve as proof of land use rights, or immovable property ownership, similar to title deeds.

Any dispute or claim to land use rights, will be based on possession of these title certificates or books, according to the draft.

All registered parcels will be given a unique identification number, which will be used as a pass key to access information about the land, the draft reads. The identification number will also be written on the title certificate or book to be issued to title holders.

A Federal Land & Real Property Registration Agency has already been set up to oversee the registration process. Regional counterparts will also be set up to administer the property registration system.

The agency for Addis Abeba has also already been set up and is recruiting staff, according to an official from the federal agency who requested anonymity.

The re-registration project aims to identify urban land resources, help protect citizens’ rights to land use and develop a complete cadastral map. The information gathered from the registration will also be used as input in creating digital and paper maps, the Bill states.

It will also help towards completing the cadastral map, at the capital and federal level, which the government has undertaken since 2010.

The bill is necessary since the current system is marred by incomplete information, a lax protection of land information, leading to forgery, and a large number of disputes over property, according to the agency official.

The government is hoping to start the project in Addis Abeba and then move on to 23 regional cities. Every urban area will be covered, step by step, according to the project.

Within this year, the registration project will be piloted in two selected weredas, in Addis Abeba, officials from the Ministry of Urban Development & Construction (MoUDC) have stated.  These weredas will be selected from Bole and Nifas Silk-Lafto districts.

“Because we want to start the pilot project soon, we are hoping to have the bill ratified by the middle of this Ethiopian Year,” the official from the agency told Fortune.

A German company, HansaLuft Bild, previously awarded with the task of designing a cadastral map, has already set up the system software for the registration process in Addis Abeba, according to the official. The system is now being tested.

A city should go about registering after dividing all land within the city limits into cadastral sections, according to the draft. These sections will further be divided into adjudication sections or blocs.

A bloc may contain around 200 parcels of land, according to agency officials. In Addis Abeba, for instance, a wereda may have 6,000 parcels of land, which may mean 30 blocs within a given area.

Registration will be done door to door. An assigned adjudicator to register parcels will be assigned to a bloc. After announcing in mass media that registration will start soon and creating awareness within the bloc, the adjudicator should send notices to all residents with property, according to the Bill.

While registration is being conducted, all court cases tied with parcels within the particular bloc will be suspended. A bloc and zonal council should be created before registration is conducted, the Bill also states.

These councils should have as members, senior or responsible citizens, who also have knowledge about the property registration process. In addition to the adjudicator assigned to the bloc and officials from the land management office. A surveyor should also be included in the councils.

The bloc councils will be the first to adjudicate land disputes during registration. A party that does not agree with a decision passed, must, within 30 days, appeal his case to the zonal council. If still unsatisfied, then the case can go to city court, the draft proclamation stipulates.

“The Bill requires senior residents to be represented in the council, since they will have knowledge of the area,” the higher official at the agency told Fortune.

This part of the bill was unsavory to a legal expert, who has 10 years of experience as a prosecutor in the Federal Ethics & Anti Corruption Commission (FEAC) and who currently serves as an arbitrator.

“These clauses give more rights to administrative adjudication than to courts, who should decide on such disputes,” he stated. “In addition, unless conditions within the civil procedure law are met, court cases cannot be suspended, which means these clauses may be contrary to the civil procedure law.”

In order to hear such comments, the MoUDC, which drafted the bill, sent the document to several stakeholders, including; regional administrations, Addis Abeba University (AAU) and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association (ECCSA),  for consultation, three weeks ago. They have been requested to forward their comments on by December 25, 2012.



By ELLENI ARAYA
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Dec 23, 2012 [ Vol 13 ,No 660]


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