Oct 30 , 2022

The ban imposed to conduct transactions with "land" transactions was altered last week, showing officials of the Addis Abeba City Administration backing down from their earlier position.

The city administration had suspended property transactions through individuals granted powers of attorney in the owners' absence. Last month, the Chief of the city cabinet, Tilahun Worku, ordered district officials not to provide services to lessees or property owners unless they appear in person before authentication officials. He blamed "fraudulent" real estate and land lease transactions for the unusual decision by the city cabinet.

It was a move that irked residents, who viewed the ban as an infringement of legal rights.

The city council appointed Kenea Yadeta, former defence minister, as the head of the Addis Abeba Land Development & Management Bureau in October, replacing Jamal Aliye.

An average of 10 people designated to authenticate documents appear weekly before the Addis Ketama District Land Management Bureau. Despite complaints directed to the city administration, there was no response from the district officials, claiming the case was under review.

"We couldn't do anything without a decision from the city officals," Andualem Yitna, head of the Bureau, told Fortune.

However, the city administration revised the suspension last week, allowing residents with disabilities, those unable to move due to illness and members of the diasporas to use their power of attorney rights upon property transactions. Share and private limited companies were allowed to get service through general managers or their directors.

Tilahun's order has caused disputes within the city's rank and with federal agency officials authenticating documents. It was not applied by the Federal Documents Authentication & Registration Agency, disclosed Alemshet Meshesha, communications head.

In the first quarter of the year, the Agency authenticated 181,940 documents, including leased land contracts.

Although the city administration copied the revised order to all the district offices under its structure, not all seem to have received the circular. Andualem disclosed to Fortune that his Bureau has yet to receive the latest letter.

The decision remains controversial, with experts challenging it as a violation of the country's civil code.

Waktola Chachu, a lawyer working on land-related legal matters, believes the hierarchy of law was not followed. The circular cannot repeal laws passed by Parliament.

"It violates the right to a property transaction," Waktola told Fortune.

However, illegal land seizures and illicit transactions through corruption and bribes have become major concerns to the city administration. It claimed to have restored 560,233Sqm of illegally occupied land in the capital in December last year.

City officials suspended land-related services a year ago, blaming the construction industry for partaking in large-scale illegal practices. They rescinded the order in December last year and sent a letter to the Construction Permit & Control Authority to resume services. The Authority is mandated to issue and renew building permits in the capital.

The challenge is apparent to real estate developers, like Flintstone Homes, with a registered capital of 5.8 billion Br, in the market since 2008. Its Deputy Manager Biruk Shimelis believes the ban should be lifted, urging officials to seek alternatives to control fraudulent activities.

The developer picks prime locations leased by multiple owners through designates. The ban made the transfer of properties in their absence a challenge, affecting projects.

"It makes the process sluggish," said Biruk.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 30,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1174]

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