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Hundreds relocate to Tanzania from former Sango Bay land

Kyotera, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Hundreds of residents in the sub counties of Kabira, Kyebe, and Kakuuto in Kyotera district are crossing the border into neighboring Tanzania as government evicts them from the former Sango Bay sugar estates.

These are part of over 10,000 people whom the government ordered off the former Sango Bay Sugar estates to pave way for the palm oil tree growing project.

Early this year, the government embarked on a process to repossess 247 square miles of land in the area, to have it used for the expansion of the National Oil Palm Project which is implemented under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries.

Apparently, some of the affected occupants mainly pastoralists are crossing to the neighboring Tanzania through the porous routes after they failed to find alternative settlements within Uganda.

Felix Muhweeza and Patrick Kabogo who are among the evicted residents we found pondering the next course of action at Bitembe village in Kyebe Sub county, say security officers enforcing the eviction orders gave them up to 15th this month to leave or have their properties destroyed.

Kabogo says that many of them are desperate after their hope of being compensated or relocated to other places by the Uganda government collapsed and that they are left with no option but to find alternative areas where they can settle.

Out of over 10,000 residents who were occupying the Sango bay Sugar estate which was formerly used by the departed Asians, government identified only 300 people who qualified for status bona-fide occupants who are now awaiting compensation.

Muhweza confirms that some pastoralists together with herds of cattle are crossing into Tanzania in the guise of looking for pastures and seeking refuge in areas of Kagera.

Gonzaga Ndawula, the Kyotera L.CV Councillor representing Kyebe Sub county says the majority of the affected residents are now finding their way out of the land, fearing the security operatives who were deployed in the area to clear the land.

He says; well as some of the residents were not legitimate occupants who had no formal documents of ownership, they had stayed on the land for decades wondering why government didn’t consider the option of resettling them as citizens.

“We actually don’t know what will happen to them in the areas they are relocating to. These were productive communities the government needed to have catered for instead of rendering them homeless,” he pleads.

Richard Kalanzi, the Kabira Sub County Chairperson also pleads with government to reserve a portion of the land for resettling of the residents instead of forcing them to flee to Tanzania where they may also be repulsed.

He adds that besides those that crossing into Tanzania, many of the affected people also moving to other areas within Kyotera district, which is going to increase land conflicts in the area.

Ambrose Musasizi, the Kyotera District Communications Officer says they are yet to receive information about people relocating to Tanzania.

He however could also not tell the whereabouts of the residents who have been evicted. But the Assistant Commissioner of Police Godfrey Matte, who is leading a combined force that is clearing the land, says these were encroachers who were asked to return to their original homes.

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