Dec 24 , 2022

Property deed transfers in the rural areas of the Amhara Regional State are suspended after the Land Bureau banned property transactions indefinitely in the outskirt of regional cities, effective December 14, 2022.

Head of the regional Land Bureau, Sisay Damte, signed the circular which orders designated officials and employees to comply. Officials claim the ban is enforced to address mismanaged land transactions in the rural areas of the regional states.

According to Sisay, the move is made to curb illegal land transfers and transactions that stall development plans with the town master plan. His management observed that invasion of lands, particularly in the outskirts of relatively developed towns, was observed where land is transferred, and authenticated document is given without following the legal procedure.

Farmers were given the right to transfer their plots to their family members, provided their heir would take the baton. They can only transfer their land as a gift if it exceeds a quarter of a hectare. The Bureau is formulating a directive that governs the system of land endowment.

Tadesse Demelash, 63, a father of five, is from the outskirt area of Bahir Dar and owns two hectares of land. He transferred a portion of his plot as a gift to his firstborn son and was planning to transfer the remaining to his second born who turned 30 years old. He dropped out of school and helped on the farm until he was ready to fly off the nest.

"This land was the only thing I have to pass to my children," he said. "It is not fair."

The regional state, where four million farmers are registered, started land registration two years ago, divided into 10 administrative zones with 106 rural, nine urban woredas, and 2,927 rural kebeles. Out of the 18 million square meters of farmland, seven million square metres have not been registered, which are the ones being misused, according to Sisay.

Tiliksew Enbakom, head of Bahir Dar city land bureau, said that the law was taken advantage of by farmers who want to benefit from buyers and get compensation from the administration. The city Land Bureau collected 65,000 Br from the gift transactions last year and 12,000 Br in the past three months. The Land Bureau collects 150 Br from each transaction.

Debre Birhan town is located in the Northern Shewa zone of the Amhara Regional State with five districts, 37 kebeles and 22,871 farmers registered from 15 rural kebeles. The town's Land Bureau Team Leader, Dereje Kura, said they have not processed any land transactions for the past three months as they are working on implementing a system that documents land ownership boundaries to provide reliable property registration.

Gebreye Sheferaw,40, a father of two, lives around the outskirt of Debre Birhan. He has one hectare of land that he wants to transfer to his children.

A month ago, he started transferring his land to his children. He went to the Land Bureau after getting the documents that authenticated his claim, only to find out that the service was no longer available.

"Giving a right and not allowing its use does not make sense," said Gebrye.

Hussein Mohammed is a law and governance researcher that argues against the suspension. He believes that the problem lies in the interpretation and implementation of the law instead of revoking farmers' rights to grant their land to their offspring.

"Such trends are copied from other city administrations," he said. "Suspending the service will not be a solution."

PUBLISHED ON Dec 24,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1182]

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