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Bunyoro petitions govt over evictions, floods

By Pascal Kwesiga

Added 5th August 2020 06:50 PM

In the petition Byakutaga handed to Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, in Kampala, the kingdom said it has received several complaints from the affected families accusing Government of evicting them.

Bunyoro petitions govt over evictions, floods

Some of the people who are to be resettled by government for encroaching on the Kyangwali Settlement land in Kyangwali sub-county, Kikuube district. (Photo by Robert Atuhairwe)

In the petition Byakutaga handed to Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, in Kampala, the kingdom said it has received several complaints from the affected families accusing Government of evicting them.

EVICTION  FLOODS  

KAMPALA - Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has petitioned Government over evictions and floods in Kikuube and Buliisa districts respectively. The kingdom delegation led by Prime Minister, Andrew Byakutaga, delivered the petition to Government on Wednesday.

Last month, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) started evicting over 1,600 households from land hosting the expansive Kyangwali refugee settlement in Kyangwali sub-county in Kikuube district. 

Jeremiah Mbakwa building a makeshift house where he will live with his 12 children and an expectant wife after they were relocated by the government from the Kyangwali settlement land. (Photo by Robert Atuhairwe)


While the OMP maintains that families are not being evicted but relocated, some of the affected individuals claim they are being displaced.

In the petition Byakutaga handed to Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, in Kampala, the kingdom said it has received several complaints from the affected families accusing Government of evicting them. 

The kingdom leased 50 square miles of land to Government to establish the settlement in 1960. Byakutaga said the lease has since expired and called for fresh negotiations with Government. 

"There is anxiety and tension in the areas as locals describe the ongoing exercise as an eviction while officials from OPM describe it as a relocation exercise," Byakutaga added. The affected families are accused of having encroached on the settlement's land. 

Byakutaga explained that the local leaders have rejected the exercise and want it halted. The delegation told Rugunda that the refugees escape from the settlement and many have settled in wetlands and forest reserves. 

"While Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom leased land to Government to host refugees, it receives nothing in return as appreciation or corporate social responsibility," the petition reads.

Relocation 

There is widespread discontent among the people in the region who feel excluded from the benefits arising from hosting refugees, according to the petition. "The local communities complain that the local content policy is not implemented on matters of refugees to enable them get jobs, business contracts and other benefits," the kingdom said. It called for transparent management of the settlement and sensitization of the local communities about the relocation activities underway. 

Children fetching water from a pond in Nyamigisa parish where people who encroached on Kyangwali settlement land in Kikuube district were being relocated. (Photo by Robert Atuhairwe)


Rugunda explained that the Government realized over five years ago that the settlement land had been encroached on. Then, he added, the Government resolved to allocate seven square kilometres of the settlement land to the encroachers. The exact size of encroached on land is not known. 

"What is happening actually is not an eviction, it is a relocation exercise. The people are being relocated to the seven square kilometres of land," Rugunda stated. He added that officials in his office will conduct further sensitization about the exercise. 

Rugunda, however, noted that a man was killed and his motorcycle vandalized while a woman was hacked for complying with the exercise. The suspects, he added, have been arrested.

Meanwhile, the lands ministry has learned that its officials dispatched to survey the settlement's land in 1998 declared only 35 square miles as the size of the property. The lands minister, Beti Kamya, told Parliament on Tuesday that the officials shared the reminder and created themselves titles, which have, however, been cancelled. 

Floods 

Byakutaga explained that floods have submerged homes on the shores of Lake Albert and displaced nearly 900 households in Buliisa district. The lake's mounting water levels, he added, have destroyed beaches and public amenities such as Butyaba health centre III and medical equipment, fish handling slabs and sanitary facilities. 

The healthy facility has been relocated to Butyaba Primary School and some families have sought refuge at Kigwera medical installation. The kingdom said there is a potential outbreak of malaria and water-borne diseases in Buliisa. 

People walk on an improvised path at Kaiso landing site. The floods have submerged homes on the shores of Lake Albert and displaced nearly 900 households in Buliisa district. (Photo by Robert Atuhairwe)


"The displaced families are in dire need of basic necessities such as food, clothing and clean water for drinking, medication, mosquito nets. Stagnant water acts as a breeding ground for mosquitoes," the petition reads. The kingdom said the displaced families are in urgent need of relocation and relief assistance. 

Rugunda said his office will assess the situation in the district. 

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