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More than 1,300 families lined up for free land titles

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Dialogue. Some of the beneficiaries on Block 125 Plot 18 to 23 land at Ddagala in Kalungi Sub-county attend a sensitisation meeting on Tuesday. PHOTO BY DAN WANDERA

At least 1,300 families in Nakasongola District have a reason to smile after government finalised the process of issuing them free land titles.
The beneficiaries are in eight villages across the sub-counties of Kalungi, Kalongo and Lwampanga.
This comes after government successfully compensated the absentee landlords who owned the land the tenants currently occupy.
The beneficiaries, who settled on an estimated 10.8 square mile piece of land, have reportedly suffered the wrath of a section of absentee landlords through illegal evictions, destruction of property and injustices in land ownership disputes.
However, during a sensitisation tour by officials from Uganda Land Commission (ULC), headed by the chairperson, Ms Beatrice Byenkya, on Tuesday, residents of Kigejjo Village in Kalungi Sub-county, who are occupying Block 128, Plot 19, expressed dismay that some of their colleagues had been duped to pay money to their landlord yet they had already sold land to the commission under the land fund scheme.
“We sold our cows and gave money to our landlord after they promised to give us our respective land titles. We are now in a dilemma after realising that the same land had already been sold to government. We are not sure whether our money can be recovered,” Mr Jerome Ssebbaale, a resident of Kigejjo Village, said.
Mr Noah Mutebi Wanzala, the Nakasongola County MP, told ULC officials that at least Shs70m was solicited from sitting tenants on Block 176, Plot 9, yet the land had already been sold to government.
“We want the Commission to follow up this matter so that this money can be recovered from the landlord. We have had a big challenge in Nakasongola District where almost 80 per cent of the residents are squatters. The unending land disputes, evictions and the failure by the land custodians to properly interpret the sensitive sections of the Land Act is the reason many people are landless,” he said.
Mr Mutebi lauded government for considering Nakasongola as a special area which was included on the list of districts to benefit from the Land Fund.
He said about Shs5b was used to pay off the absentee landlords on an estimated 10.8 square mile land in Nakasongola to have the affected tenants get their land titles.
Ms Byenkya said ULC was aware of the selfish individuals who are duping sitting tenants and several cases are being investigated.
“We have already noted cases where the commission will deduct the money that has been solicited from tenants from the compensation package to the landlords,” she said.
Ms Margaret Komuhangi, the Nakasongola District Woman MP, said about 85 per cent of the families are tenants on land that they have no proper sense of ownership.
“You cannot develop a permanent project on land where the landlord threatens to have you evicted. Some of the tenants have been forced to give in more than 60 per cent of the total land that they own to the landlord to have a land title,” she said.

Mr Ivan Sserwambala, an officer in charge of survey and plot demarcation programme at Bukalasa regional land office that also oversees greater Luweero sub-region, said the survey process was underway.
“We are already on the ground with a team of surveyors. These people will soon get their land titles from government,” he said.

Ms Betty Amongi, the former Lands minister in her recent handover report to the new minister, Ms Beti Kamya, indicated that the Ministry of Lands had outstanding arrears of about Shs140b to compensate all absentee landlords across the country and effect the presidential directives under ULC.

Other beneficiaries in Nakasongola are settled on land at Junda Village Kalungi Sub-county (Block 128 Plot 19), land at Mayirikiti Town Council on Block 135, land at Kigejjo Village on Block 176 Plot 9, land at Ddagala in Kalungi Sub-county on Block 125 Plot 18 to 23, and land at Zengebe in Lwampanga Sub-county on Block 44 Plot 6 measuring about 640 acres.

2010 land act
Nearly a decade ago, Parliament passed the Land Amendment Act 2010, which government said was to protect tenants from illegal evictions.
However, Buganda Kingdom strongly opposed the legislation, saying a new law was uncalled for since government had failed to enforce the existing laws.
The law gives tenants more rights to resist eviction by landlords. Landlords need a court order to evict tenants and must notify them before selling their land, but some of these conditions are never followed and many tenants are being evicted without court orders.

Source: Daily Monitor

I write Human Rights

Industrial Park Development in Buikwe is dispossessing hundreds of Native Families…

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Structures of houses demolished by G.M Sugar in Namabere village, Buikwe District.

 

By witnessradio.org Team.

Buikwe – Uganda – Close to 1000 families in Namabere landing site, Buikwe District are forcefully being evicted off their land to give way for an industrial park, witnessradio.org has learned.

The industrial park which measures approximately 329.5 Ha, along the shores of Lake Victoria, is the brainchild of Magan Patel, the head of Nile Group of Companies. It is not clear whether the park authorities obtained the social and environmental impact assessment from environmental regulatory bodies as it is adjacent to the lake.

witnessradio.org findings indicate that so far the park has attracted about 26 companies amongst others include; Nile Agro Ltd; Nile Aluminum Ltd; Nile Batteries Ltd; Nile Wheat Ltd; Auro Meera Paper Ltd; Modern Distillers Ltd; Modern Laminates Ltd; Nile GM Plastics Ltd; Modern Rubber Ltd; and Cable Ltd and many others.

According to the affected persons, GM Sugar Company one of the companies targeting their land, since November 2020 with the help of Buikwe police has been forcing natives to receive payment in form of transport on a gunpoint to vacate the land. The payment ranges from 100,000 – 200,000 Ugandan shillings to residents of the area to vacate their land.

“Imagine at a gunpoint, someone is paid Uganda Shillings 100,000, his/her properties get destroyed and your forced to vacate where you earn a living. How do you feel? Do you know how hard this is?” angrily asked a 45-year-old Bayati Kafuuko.

Bayati, a mother of six (6) said that she has nowhere to go and left with nothing to feed her family since all her property was destroyed by the armed men.

“What can that money do, it can’t even meet transport costs,” added Bayati.
Several affected persons revealed that before the eviction, there was neither consultation and concession to the project nor valuation and fair compensation of their property.

“Ever since the attack started we live in fear, we cannot sleep because most of our houses were pulled down. All our fish was taken by soldiers, we have nothing to eat,” said a 58-year-old Francis Obiire.

He added that he cannot accept being illegally evicted on land he has lived on since his birth.
“My father has lived on this land since 1950. I was born here in 1962. With this little money, which land do they expect me to buy,” Obiire added.

The chairman of Namabere village Mr. Ochen Peter said his people are being intimidated without due process is followed. He further said that workers of the investors under the protection of police carry out daily patrolling of the area just to intimidate residents.

When witnessradio.org contacted Ssekamatte Musa, one of the GM Sugar company managers, he declined to speak.

“I am busy, I will call you,” he said.

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Beijing proposes seven-point plan for upgrading China-Africa cooperation

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African leaders at the FOCA meeting in 2018

Chato, Tanzania | XINHUA |  The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has achieved great success and become a new monument to China-Africa friendly cooperation, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday.

Wang made the remarks at a joint press conference here with Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Palamagamba Kabudi during his official visit to the African country.

Wang noted that over the past two years, China has fully implemented the eight major initiatives with African countries proposed at the Beijing Summit.

Cooperation in areas of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security have been carried out in a comprehensive way, he said, adding that the overall implementation rate has exceeded 70 percent.

Noting that China-Africa cooperation on the “Belt and Road” is progressing smoothly, Wang said over 1,100 cooperation projects continue to operate during the epidemic.

Meanwhile, nearly 100,000 Chinese technical and engineering personnel also stick to their posts to coordinate and promote epidemic prevention and control as well as resume work and production, making important contributions to local economic and social development.

The friendship between Chinese and African people has continued to grow and the two sides have established 11 pairs of new sister cities, bringing the total number to 150, said Wang,

Furthermore, the China-Africa Institute has been inaugurated, a number of Confucius Institutes have been set up in Africa and exchanges in sectors of sports, health, tourism and youths between the two sides have yielded fruitful results, Wang added.

Wang noted that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not stop China and Africa from moving forward together. The two sides are scheduled to hold a new session of the FOCAC in Senegal later this year.

“China is ready to enhance communication with our African friends and we will carefully design the outcomes of the meeting and upgrade China-Africa cooperation based on the new situation, new needs and new opportunities of China-Africa cooperation,” said Wang.

A seven-point plan for upgrading of China-Africa cooperation is also proposed by Wang.

  • –China will strengthen health cooperation, work together with Africa to completely defeat the epidemic, help Africa enhance its capacity to prevent and respond to major diseases, and jointly build a “Healthy Africa”.
  • –China will enhance production capacity cooperation and upgrade China-Africa project cooperation to a more clustered, large-scale, industrialized and localized scale. China will help Africa raise its capacity for independent production and jointly build a “Made in Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen regional connectivity, explore China-Africa free trade cooperation, and help Africa enhance internal infrastructure connectivity, unimpeached trade and financial integration so as to jointly build an “Inter-connected Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen agricultural cooperation, carry out cooperation in grain production, storage and transportation, help Africa strengthen its food security and guarantee capability to jointly build a “Harvest Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen digital cooperation, give full play to China’s technological advantages, help Africa seize the opportunity of the information revolution and jointly build a “Digital Africa”.
  • –China will carry out environmental protection cooperation, practice the concept of sustainable development, help Africa improve its ability to cope with climate change and jointly build a “Green Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen military security cooperation, promote political solutions of critical issues in Africa, help Africa enhance its peacekeeping and anti-terrorism capabilities, and jointly build a “Safe Africa”.

Wang also expressed confidence that with the joint efforts of both sides and under the guidance of the forum mechanism, China-Africa cooperation will continue to bear fruits and make greater contribution to the building of a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.

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XINHUA

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land, livelihood and investment

Trauma and wounds caused by evictions in Kiryandongo still fresh three years down the road…

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By witnessradio.org Team

Kiryandongo-Uganda -Anna Maria Mukabariyanga a mother of four is one of the people that have tested the wrath of Kiryandongo Sugar Limited. It’s one of the multinational companies that have evicted over 35000 people to pave way for different projects

Mukabariyanga a resident of ranch 23 was attacked by security operatives of Kiryandongo Sugar, beaten, and thrown out of her house on the fateful night that left many homeless.

She was pregnant and in the process, she had a miscarriage.

“I was 8 months pregnant when the armed operatives attacked us, beat me up on the back. My husband was away and had no one to come to my rescue. I was thrown down by one of the evictors who continued beating me,” Says Anna Maria Mukabariyaga.

“In five days, I started bleeding but could not go to the hospital because I did not have money and later on I lost my lost child. However, I was later taken to Kiryandongo Hospital by neighbors in the area I had moved to”. She adds.

Such violent repression is the tale of villagers in Kiryandongo who were never consulted or given information privy to the eviction.

“I heard notices over the radio that, people should prepare to have their land valued for compensation but that did not trickle down to us in form of meetings”. Said 78-year old Bakaikara Edward, a resident of Kakoba village, Kitwala Sub County in Kiryandongo district.

Bakaikara says, the advert ran for two months and later evictions started.

“I was born and raised on this land by the late Kamiri Kajula. My siblings and I have been staying here since childhood. They cultivated and lived on 400 hectares as a family”. He narrates.

“I had also developed the land as a farmer, but all crops were destroyed, I have nothing to feed the family on.” He added.

“Our hearts are broken. Our children are not going to school and we do not have food. We are very angry and hungry too,” Another resident only identified as Joyce chorused in as Mr. Bakaikara told his story.

Before the agribusiness companies came in, Badudu and the other small farmers of Kiryandongo planted beans, maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, groundnuts, cassava, and mangoes, and reared pigs, goats, and cows.

Much of their former land is now occupied by sugarcane, coffee, soya, and maize which are all solely exported for profits.

Joseph Walekula one of the community leaders in Kiryandongo says, many people have been turned into beggars and reduced to working on land that they used to own.

“When Kiryandongo sugar company limited came in, people lost their land, no due compensation was done. Many people joined refugee camps where they live up to now, others ran away, and we don’t know where they are.” Says Mr. Walekula.

This is all happening under the watch of government bodies and security agencies like Police that have instead turned against the communities in defense of the investors.

Kiryandongo Sugar is owned by the Rai dynasty operating agribusiness and timber activities in DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi. One of its directors is a shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company, which was listed in the Panama Papers database

It arrived in 2017, owns about 2400 hectares of sugarcane plantation project in Kiryandongo, and one of the three multinational projects that have continuously evicted people in the area.

Others are the; Great Season SMC Limited, a Dubai-based company reportedly owned by Sudanese businessmen building a coffee plantation on 1,165 hectares, and Agilis Partners, a company owned by US businessmen and backed by several foreign development agencies and “social impact” investors establishing a large-scale grains farm on around 3,850 hectares.

 

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