Apac, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 5,000 residents neighbouring Maruzi Ranch in Apac district are living in fear after the proprietor of Hill Side Agricultural Investment Limited stopping them from grazing on the land.
Maruzi land measuring approximately 64 square kilometres has been home to more than 1,500 squatters since 1995. In 2019, the government leased 54 square miles of the Ranch land for 50 years to Hill Side Agricultural Investment limited for the establishment of Palm Oil production.
According to the agreement between the government and the company, about 10 square kilometres of the Ranch land was to be used by the Project Affected Persons to graze their livestock.
However the residents are now accusing the authorities of denying them the opportunity to access the ranch and grazing their livestock.
The LCII Chairperson of Tarogali parish in Ibuje Sub County Constantine Okao saysthat he has received directives from the investor to stop residents from grazing on the land.
Veronica Akello, a resident of Tarogali parish who has about 78 herds of cattle says she is stranded with no option where to graze her cattle.
Paul Ocen a resident of Acamkado, who has over 200 herds of cattle, says he has now started selling some of his animals. He wants the district authorities to intervene.
Chuck Deome, the Manager Hillside Agricultural Limited said the ban is meant to plantations from being destroyed by the residents. He, however, said they were working closely with the local leaders to handle the matter.
The Apac District Speaker Peter Obong Acuda says that he has met officials of Hill Side and asked him to halt the eviction until an amicable solution is found to settle the affected residents.
In 1968, the government leased out Maruzi Ranching Scheme comprised in 64 square miles of land located in Apac District to Uganda Livestock Industries Ltd for 99 years; however, as a result of the northern insurgency of 1985, the business of Uganda Livestock Industries Limited was disrupted leading to the eventual collapse of the Ranching Scheme.
But with the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and the subsequent enactment of the Land Act CAP 227, the land reverted to the government of Uganda under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industries.