Kanungu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Residents of Nyabirehe parish in Kihembe sub-county, Kanungu district are up in arms against the management of Nyamwegabira catholic parish in Kabale diocese for blocking a road used by the community.
The one kilometer road in Nyabirehe village connects Nyinabirehe to the nearby villages of Nyakasharara and Rukarara. The road also connects to the public water source in the area. The road which according to locals has been in existence for more than 50 years acts as a boundary between Kashesha Catholic Church under Nyamwegabira Catholic parish, Kabale diocese, and locals’ land.
Locals say that they were surprised when last week, Rev Fr Lucas Kizza, Nyamwegabira Catholic Parish Priest appeared with unidentified people and blocked and fenced off the road.
Frank Geoffrey Byaruhanga, 51 years, one of the concerned area residents says that the feud started last month when MTN company appeared in the area with a plan of establishing a network booster and both locals and the catholic parish management led by Rev. Fr. Kiiza offered land.
The company chose to use one of the local’s land located in the nearby Ruchenche hill. Byahuhanga says that this angered Fr. Kiiza who appeared on Monday this week with unidentified people who blocked and fenced the road. On asking him why they had blocked the road, Fr. Kiiza reportedly told them to open another road in their land.
Byaruhanga claims that Fr. Kiiza could have been angered by the decision of the company to drop constructing the network booster in the church land.
Isaac Migasho, another concerned resident says that he exactly doesn’t know the reason why the management of Nyamwegabira Catholic parish blocked the road yet locals use it to connect to nearby villages of Nyakasharara and Rukarara. According to Migasha, even if the network booster deal failed to be in favor of the church, there would be no reason for the management to block the road since they are now punishing innocent locals who have been using it.
Eliphaz Sabitti, Kihembe sub-county councilor representing Kihembe parish says that the matter escalated after locals mobilized and demolished the fence, and reopened the road but Fr. Kiiza on Monday this week again re-appeared with his group fenced it fresh.
According to Sabitti, even the intervention of the police to arrest Fr. Kiiza and his group and detaining them at the Kihihi police station before they were released on bond did not solve anything. He says after securing police bonds, they again fenced and dug holes on the road.
Sabitti says that in addition to the wrangles developing from the network booster, heavy political wrangles between protestants and Catholics in the area and he speculates that these could also be the reason why Fr. Kiiza is leading the catholic church management to block the road.
When contacted, Fr. Kiiza declined to comment, saying that the matter is before the court. Asked which exact party between locals and the church petitioned the court, Fr. Kiiza declined to reveal.
Ambrose Mwesigye Amanyire, Kanungu Resident District Commissioner calls for calm saying that his office is handling the matter amicably.