By John B. Thawite
HUNDREDS of angry residents in Kyondo village, Rukoki ward in Kasese municipality on Saturday resisted the Governmentâ€™s attempts to survey their land.
The agriculture ministry contracted Mituland Company to survey the land, which is said to be part of the defunct Mubuku Irrigation Scheme that is slated for rehabilitation.
The occupants, totalling about 250 families, blocked the road leading to their village to prevent the surveyors from accessing the land.
They vowed to lynch anyone who dared cross their blockade, prompting the Police to intervene. They fired in the air to quell the riot.
â€œSurvey work had been going on for two days until Saturday when the residents rioted,â€ the Kasese district Police commander, Paul Mumbogwe, said on Saturday.
He said the exercise was halted until higher authorities come in to address the issues surrounding the disputed land. The residents expressed fear of being evicted from their land, which they claim to have been occupying for nearly 60 years.
â€œWe have lived here since 1954 and no one has ever claimed this land. We are not sure of what the Government wants to do,â€ the area LC1 chairman, Emmanuel Katuramu, said.
Katuramu said the residents had not been informed that their land would be surveyed.
He said the affected families settled in Kyondo in 1954 when their land at Rwabusakara was designated as part of Queen Elizabeth National Park in the early 1950s.
â€œThis time, we will die here. We are tired of being evicted,â€ said 80-year-old Ibrahim Kambere, who was young when his family was evicted.
Kambere also said they were not compensated during the eviction.
â€œWhen we settled on this land, it was empty. But when Mubuku Irrigation Scheme was set up, we were pushed westwards to the current place,â€ he said.
The surveyors said they would wait for the outcome of the consultations with higher authorities.
â€œWe were hired in October last year to survey the land that was demarcated for the expansion of the Mubuku Irrigation Scheme,â€ Farouk Bukwa, the leader of the surveyors, said. The irrigation scheme started 47 years ago.
Due to the breakdown in infrastructure, the scheme narrowed down to small-scale production of mostly vegetables for local consumption.
â€œThe rehabilitation is supposed to return Mubuku to its former glory and to benefit all Ugandans,â€ the Kasese district agricultural officer, Theresa Munyazikwiye, said.