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Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Land Evictions in Uganda

I dare not say anything. Those who follow my posts know I have said enough. Save for my sanity, it is impossible to imagine that another 1000 families are being evicted. I would love to write a story on evictions and land grabbing in ‪#‎Uganda‬ but I did that already and hardly anyone paid attention. Kale, let me just throw this one at you. If you are not angry, you are not paying attention (‪#‎stolen‬).
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<<Kampala.
The High Court in Kampala has issued an interim order stopping more than 1,000 residents on Bunjako Island in Mpigi District from reclaiming plots of land in a private forest reserve owned by Buganda Kingdom Prince David Mawanda Namugala.
Prince Mawanda claims the residents illegally acquired land in his forest and started felling trees as well as creating gardens.
The interim order, dated October 20, that was issued by the assistant registrar of the Land Division, Ms Esta Nambayo, will stay in force until the hearing and disposal of the substantive suit.
“The current status quo be maintained, the applicant (Prince Mawanda) in the meantime remains in occupation of land comprised in Mawokota Block 360, plot 1, at Kibigo (Bunjako) pending hearing and disposal of the interim order application inter parties on October 20, 2014…” reads the court order, in part.
About the prince
Prince Mawanda is the heir to the late Prince George Mawanda Chwa who was Kabaka Mutebi’s uncle and a big landlord in Buganda.
This land dispute arose early this month when Prince Mawanda, through his company Bunjako Services Ltd, went to court challenging the illegal acquisition of plots of land in his forest by residents.
The residents were sued together with the area MP Joseph Kiyingi Bbosa and a senior private secretary to the president Mariam Namayanja, who reportedly organised a meeting in the area early this month and ordered the residents to reoccupy the forest land on claims that it was a presidential directive.
The contested land is on Block 360, Kibigo Bunjako and measures three square miles covering villages including Kyagalanyi, Kirega, Kasawo and Bayita, all in Buwama Sub-county.
Last year, Environment and Water minister Ephraim Kamuntu ordered encroachers out of all national forests, saying government was concerned over the high rate of depletion of forests in the country.
Mr Fred Kalyango, the manager of Prince Mawanda’s estates, said there is a sizeable number of residents who they recognise as bona fide tenants, but the problem is with the new immigrants who chose to encroach on the forest land.
“The problem is with some locals who think they can circumvent the law and occupy parts of the area that is gazetted as a forest. That is illegal and will not be tolerated,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Bunjako Island has been a hotbed of land wrangles for nearly a decade which are fuelled by refugees who come from as far as Kisoro, Bundibugyo, Rwanda and Burundi looking for free land for settlement and farming.
Land bonanza
Shockingly, it is not only immigrants that have claimed the forest land. Even individuals with homes in areas such as Mpigi, Wakiso and parts of Kampala have stormed the island to benefit from the land bonanza. One lady, a proprietor of a private school Gayaza, Wakiso District, reportedly in acquired 10 acres on the island.
According to correspondences seen by this newspaper, Prince Mawanda has since 2005, reported the uncontrolled influx of immigrants in his forest to authorities at all levels but many seem unbothered.
Deforestation
Ministry of Water and Environment statistics show that 6,000 hectares of forest cover are lost to deforestation each year. More than 95 per cent of the population cook with firewood or charcoal, yet 96 per cent of the rural population relies on biomass for cooking, explaining why the country risks losing a lot of forest cover.>>
The High Court in Kampala has issued an interim order stopping more than 1,000 residents on Bunjako Island in Mpigi District from reclaiming plots of land in a private forest reserve
MONITOR.CO.UG

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