Court has temporarily blocked the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) from evicting Makindye Division wetland dwellers, pending hearing of the main case.
A total of 304 residents of Kansanga Kiwafu ‘B' and Heritage Zones in Makindye Division, Kampala district, face eviction after NEMA wrote to them demanding that they leave the place within 21 days because they encroached on a wetland.
However, the Land Division of the High Court deputy registrar Flavia Nabakooza Friday issued the directive, saying the resident are at risk of being evicted following the expiry of the eviction notice on Monday.
"I do not have powers to say you demolish the houses or not, but for a meantime, do not demolish people's structures until the judge tells you to do so," she ordered.
The registrar, therefore, ordered that the interim order stay in place until July 6, 2010, when Justice Yasin Nyanzi will hear the main case.
She also gave NEMA's lawyer, Sarah Naigaga time to file supplementary affidavits in support of their defence.
Lawyers Achilles Lubega, Adam Kirumira, and Issa Kavuma represent the residents.
Last week, the residents led by Jeff Gidaguyi Wadulo petitioned court, challenging a move by NEMA to evict them from the land, which they claim to have been occupying since 1990.
Documents before the court indicate that the group is among individuals who were affected by government projects of the construction of Kampala-Jinja express highway and Standard Gauge Railway but were compensated.
The complainants say Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) intends to compensate them for the land to pave way for the construction of the proposed Kampala-Jinja expressway.
They have vowed not to vacate the land without being adequately compensated by the government.
The residents say they have developed the land with permanent structures like residential homes, education institutions, health facilities and places of worship from which they derive sustenance and spiritual well-being.
They say their occupation and ownership has been recognised by various government agencies like Kampala Capital City Authority, which levies property rates on their properties.
"While we have been staying on the land peacefully, NEMA served us with an environmental restoration order dated June 8, 2020 through our area local council authority giving us 21 days to demolish our houses and vacate the land or else face forceful eviction," states the document in parts.
The complainants contend that NEMA officers with the Police have continuously harassed them, claiming that they are preparing to demolish their houses and evict them from the land.
The residents contend that they are living in fear following NEMA's eviction notice.
"I have been in possession of my portion of land having acquired interest from Ssekungu Anjero who has also been in possession for over 10 years prior to purchase of the same," Robert Ojiambo states in his affidavit.
Ojiambo says on September 3, 2015, UNRA assessed his land for purposes of constructing the proposed Kampala-Jinja expressway and promised to compensate him.
The residents seek a declaration that they are not occupying land under the control of NEMA.
They also seek a permanent injunction restraining NEMA or any other government body from evicting and demolishing their structures.
In the alternative, they want the court to compel NEMA to compensate them before they acquire the land. They also want general damages for inconvenience, interest, and costs of the suit.