August 31, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The Addis Ababa City Administration has faced allegations that it permitted land grabbing and illegally transferred condominium houses in a politically motivated decision.
In a briefing on Monday, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (ECSJ) said thousands of square meters of land have been taken illegally over the past months.
Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (ECSJ) said the land grabbing and illegal transfer of the condominiums have reached a “critical level” based on a study it conducted on the matter.
“Key places, roads, and public areas have been fenced illegally in five sub-cities of the metropolis with officials in the Oromia region were the major actors in the land grabbing,” it said in a report.
According to ECSJ, the land grabbings and illegal transfer of condominiums were done by organized groups and individuals in the presence of security forces and with the involvement of officials and employees of the city administration.
Concerned officials of the city administration remained indifferent as the grabbed lands were sold to the third party but facilitated transactions including by issuing title deeds and giving maps.
Last Saturday and today (Monday) Addis Ababa police denied ECSJ to give a press conference at Ras Hotel for undisclosed reasons.
In a briefing held on Monday, ECSJ deputy chairperson Andualem Aragae accused government officials of accumulating the nation’s resources through illegal means. He called on the government to stop the land grabbing and illegal transfer of condominium houses.
In what seemed to be a campaign, the city government under the leadership of former Deputy Mayor Takele Uma has hired hundreds of ethnic Oromo people in various offices of Addis Ababa after the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed government introduced reforms two years ago.
So far, the government has constructed less than 170,000 houses but one million people need homes. Takele Uma, the vice mayor of the city previously announced that his administration had prepared 1,500 hectares to build condominiums.
The administration retook over 200 hectares of land in various parts of the city from investors including 54 hectares of the MIDROC fenced land but no plan has been made so far as to which places will serve for the construction of the condos.
The city government had already enacted a new directive that authorizes the city’s mayor and his cabinet to provide land and condominium houses without a lottery draw. According to the ECSJ, the city administration has been transferring to those individuals and groups who were not legally entitled to.
Over 900 thousand residents of the city were registered for condominium houses under different housing programs of the city government and depositing cash with the hope that they would become owners of their own houses.
Heads of sub-cities and district administrations reportedly facilitated the land grabbing while police officers provided protection as ethnic Oromo youth fenced key places and vacant areas.
From the start, the government of PM Abiy Ahmed has been accused of blatantly favoring his own ethnic group, the Oromos, over other Ethiopians. Many in the opposition criticize it for the disproportionate number of Oromo appointments at the federal level, for condoning criminal activities of Oromo youth, and for various kinds of organized corrupt practices, including the land grabs in question.