Luuka residents living in panic over looming eviction

Residents protest eviction from their ancestral land. URN photo

Luuka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Over 3,000 residents from eight villages in Bukanga sub-county, Luuka district are living in fear of eviction from two square miles of land. The affected villages are Bukaade, Bukwanga, Bugogo, Ndoya central, Ndoya A, Nakamini, Nabinoni and Buwologoma central.

According to residents, a team of surveyors backed by armed personnel is surveying the land where they have set up homes and gardens without their consent. The affected residents accuse Jane Francis Kagayi, the Luuka Resident District Commissioner of leading the surveyors to plant mark stones on their land illegally.

Susan Nabirye, one of the residents says that in 2018, district officials ordered to vacate the wetland and provide space for the surveyors to map out one of the government’s protected areas, which they adhered to.

She however notes that the same people returned with Kagayi in April 2022, and started surveying the land hosting their homes and dryland farmlands noting that an investor had embarked on the process of developing the land.

According to Nabirye, such inconsistencies by area leaders raise suspicion about the possibility of connivance to grab their land.

Aidah Nakiyuka, a resident of Bukwanga village says that there is no transparency in the whole process of surveying their land since community members were never briefed on the nature of the project. Nakiyuka says that residents are scared of falling prey to land grabbers and the failure of the officials involved to provide them with information, has bred tensions within the area.

Mudooli Mutemo, the LC1 chairperson of Bukaade village says that they sought guidance from Kagayi after endless beatings from the security personnel in vain. He says the RDC has okayed the ongoing survey without giving residents any brief on the project. Mutemo argues that it is prudent for Kagayi to bridge the information gap between the residents and the project promoters, rather than backing the forceful takeover of the land.

Fred Mwanda, a resident says that Kagayi should be the center of reconciliation because these endless fights might lead to loss of life and property if mismanaged. Mwanda stresses that the persistent harassment by security personnel deployed to guard the surveyors has contributed to low productivity within the area since most residents lock themselves in their houses for fear of being battered.

Kagayi denies the allegations leveled against her by the affected residents. She explains that a group of investors approached the district leadership with proposals to boost agriculture production in the area. She however admits that the residents were briefed, which has led to increased tensions.

On his part, Simon Wakaze, the Luuka district LCV chairperson says that he is not aware of the plans by any investor to redevelop the contested land. Luuka Deputy Resident District Commissioner Paul Waiswa has called on the residents to stay calm, arguing that inquiries to ascertain the viability of the investors are underway and a comprehensive report shall be released to that effect.

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URN

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