PM Nabbanja delays eviction of Sango bay occupants by one month

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja addressing residents in Sango Bay.

Kyotera, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has extended the eviction of people occupying Sango Bay land by one month.

The extension was made to allow a final joint assessment of all grievances raised in various reports by the local leaders and the ill-fated occupants.

Nabbanja was on a fact-finding mission in Kyotera on Thursday, where she met LCIII chairpersons of the five affected sub-counties of Kyebe, Kakuuto, Kasasa, Kabira and Mutukula town council, MPs, and other district leaders over the various grievances.

The development comes a week after the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga visited Kyotera where she said that the Sango bay land issues had been poorly handled.

Last week, a combined force of Police and other security agencies led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Godfrey Maate, gave an ultimatum of only seven days for all the occupants to vacate the 247 square miles. The land has been allocated for the expansion of the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP) implemented under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

Within the seven days, several houses had been erased and crops destroyed during a forceful eviction, but the local leaders and the affected occupants protested the ultimatum saying the seven days could not allow them to collect all their belongings and relocate elsewhere.

Some of Nabbanja’s findings include fewer occupants on the land required for oil palm growing, several being illegal occupants, and few being bonafide and legal occupants. She further noted that they only need a portion of land for oil palm growing not the five sub-counties as perceived by the public.

Nabbanja says they will compensate only two categories including bonafide and legal occupants, adding that the illegal occupants will not receive any compassionate compensation as it was earlier promised by State Minister for Lands Sam Mayanja.

According to Gabriel Bwayo, the Kyotera Chief Administrative Officer, the project has been delayed for four months due to several challenges including the increasing number of encroachers, land scams, and inadequate funding for the reorganization of the land, land fraud syndicates, and violent land conflicts. He adds that the mixing of encroachers and the legal occupants has made it difficult for them to categorise the project affected persons on the land.

Defense Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says production of oil palm in Kyotera will enable the country to save more than USD 200 million which would be used to purchase crude oil from Malaysia and Indonesia. He further appealed to the local leaders to not only support foreign investors but to welcome, inspire and support local investors who are willing and capable of putting up various investments for the good of the people.

According to Apollo Mugume, the Kyotera Resident District Commissioner, the project processes have come at a time when the district leaders have not been engaged to be well versed with the project in the district. He appealed to the Prime Minister to come up with a special arrangement and take the district leaders to Kalangala, where oil palm growing has been a success for a three-day orientation and exposure.

Kabuye Kyofatogabye, the State Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs and also the Oil Palm Coordinator in the MAAIF, appealed to the district leaders to mobilise and interest the residents in becoming oil palm outgrowers.  He says that engaging in oil palm growing will enable Kyotera residents to tap into sustainable incomes that will improve their livelihoods.

However, Patrick Kintu Kisekulo, the Kyotera district chairperson says that all the legal occupants should be compensated or relocated before being evicted from the land. He cautioned the surveyors against encroaching on the Mailo land which may cause clashes.

Francis Kizza, the Kyebe LCIII chairperson, says there were some irregularities in the surveying of Sango bay land whereby the surveyors encroached on mailo land.

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