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Committee irked by encroachment on railway land

The Works Minister Gen Katumba Wamala

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT  |  The land investigations committee appointed to establish the state of ownership of Uganda Railways Corporation- URC land have expressed concern about the extent of encroachment on both the rail line and its reserves. 

In December last year, the Works Minister, Gen Katumba Wamala, appointed a six-member land investigations committee to also establish boundaries of all the Uganda Railways land and assist the company to take possession of all established encroached land. 

The committee was also tasked to collect documentation for any purported ownership by encroachers, provide monthly investigation interim reports and provide URC land status report to the minister within 60 days. 

Addressing journalists on Thursday in Jinja, the committee chairperson, William Korotyo says that, before their fact-finding trip in Jinja City, they had received reports of squatters who have constructed permanent houses within the rail line and its’ surrounding reserves. 

Korotyo reveals that some people have intentionally uprooted URC boundary marks and even fraudulently acquired land titles on the illegal land. He reveals that a small number of squatters acquired temporary permits to enable them to cultivate quick maturing crops within the reserves since they were bound to be evicted anytime, but they have instead installed eucalyptus farms, public toilets among other permanent projects contrary to what is contained in their contracts.

Korotyo adds that as a means of saving the government from its’ frequent expenditures on annual road repairs, the Ministry of Works devised a strategy of revamping rail transport, to relieve the highways of heavy trucks which are the main cause of collateral damage on the roads. 

Mubarak Kirunda, the Jinja Central Division Chairperson who is accused of illegally allocating rail land to encroachers says that URC had abandoned the reserves, prompting local authorities to use them as settlement areas for struggling youths. 

“URC had abandoned these reserves which had become bushy and hubs of criminal groups, therefore, I allocated part of the rail reserves to the mechanics who had been evicted from the garages within the city centre,” he says.

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