Masindi, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Lands has intervened in a wrangle between Uganda Investment Authority-UIA and over 2,000 residents over a contested piece of land in Masindi district. The land measuring approximately 60 square miles is situated in Kimengo sub-county Masindi district.
More than 2,000 people from the villages of Bungucoda, Nyakarongo, Kiryana, Ijwamba and Kokoitwa in Kimengo were forcefully evicted from the land said to be belonging to Uganda Investment Authority-UIA in November 2019. The residents were given just a few hours to vacate the land.
At the time, the eviction was effected by a team of police officers backed by Uganda Peoples Defense Force-UPDF under the command of the former Masindi Resident District Commissioner-RDC Godfrey Nyakahuma, who says he acted on the instructions of Finance Minister Matia Kasaija.
Homes were demolished and crop gardens razed to pave way for redevelopment allegedly by investors. But it’s said that Uganda Investment Authority-UIA bought the contested land from Bunyoro Grower’s Union in 2005 and leased it out to four companies including Mena food limited, Soul Agro business, Critical mass limited and Afro CAI Company Limited.
The controversy reached its peak when Afro CAI Company Limited and Soul Agro Business attempted to fence off the land in November last year drawing protests from residents some of whom had occupied the contested land for over 15 years. Several others had lived on the land long before Bunyoro Grower’s Union sold it to Uganda Investment Authority.
18 of the residents who were opposed to the brutal eviction were arrested and detained at Masindi central police station. But Lands Minister Betty Kamya has halted any kind of eviction on the said land and cautioned security officials against effecting evictions in the absence of a court order.
She says that a committee will be instituted to establish the rightful owner of the land and investigate circumstances under which the people were evicted from the land.
Masindi district chairperson Cosmas Byaruhanga says that district leaders were never consulted before the eviction of the residents. He says residents who were occupying the land before Uganda Investment Authority bought it in 2005 should have been compensated before they are evicted.
Justine Tushabe, one of the residents who were forcefully evicted from the contested piece of land in November last year wants justice to prevail saying all those who were behind their brutal eviction be penalized accordingly.