Addis Ababa Offers to Legalize Illegal Land Grabbers

by Zelalem

Tayitu 14th

Addis Abeba City Administration is issuing 44,547 ownership title deeds for households built on undocumented land.

The registration process of the residents of the city who own undocumented and illegally occupied land between May 1996 to April 2005 has already begun; this process is applicable for lands grabbed only within the given period of time; these are plots of lands occupied without permission from the city administration, illegally expanded lands and lands occupied by farmers for residential purposes.

In line with the line map produced by the city administration in 2005, the administration plans to issue 44,547 ownership documents. The decision was made last year and the action will be done in reference to Directive 18/2014, which treats lands that are not documented by an authorized body; lands that are occupied illegally and lands occupied by farmers for residential purposes.

Owners of 75 sqm plots of land that are occupied for either residential or commercial use will pay an initial lease price; but if it is more than this, it is mandatory to pay based on the seasonal lease price.

The Addis Abeba land area covers approximately 52,000ha, and the City Administration established a land bank in 2013 in order to facilitate the lease process overseen by the City Cabinet, the highest executive body of the Administration.

However, acquisition of plots that contradict the line map, lands that were temporarily given for SMEs for storing sites at construction materials, for production of construction inputs (quarry) will be taken by the city administration. Moreover, lands that are illegally occupied after 2005 will be taken by the administration and the land will be codified and put into land bank; and any construction on these lands will be demolished and the land will be taken away.

As some documents by Transparency International indicated, after the 2005 election, the city administration was faced with a power vacuum because a significant area of land was taken illegally. As far as acquisition of land is concerned, this action was brought up in order to overcome illegality; this process will also help the administration to transform the city’s land into process of registration, says Markos Alemayehu, communications officer for the city’s Housing Development Urban Renewal Agency.

This is the second time that the city administration has taken this same measure of registering undocumented lands and issuing documents for occupied lands acquired before 1996 since 2010. In line with this, the city administration settled ownership issues of 60,600 lands and documents were issued, said Markos. But that was for lands that were not documented, he added, not those that were illegally possessed.

For this purpose, the administration has a project office that specifically deals with the issue at the city level. Moreover, at Woreda level, there is human resource arrangement of two experts selected by the respective district, one appointee by each Woreda and representatives from every level of social/political arrangements (leagues).

The previous experience was initially scheduled to be completed within six months but later found to take three years. Currently, the city is making announcement via media for those residents to whom the new offer applies, but only few are coming forward so far, Markos says.

“We will exert our efforts so that it will not become a drawn out process like in 2010,” Markos added.

It is after the people have registered that the city administration will decide if those registered deserve to get documents for the land they occupied.

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