The surveying and mapping of the proposed Bukasa Inland Port in Wakiso district is expected to kick off next month, according to the Ministry of Works and Transport.
The exercise will include marking and surveying over 309 acres of privately owned land that cuts through parts of Bukasa Trading Centre and Namanve.
The land is occupied by about 2,000 homes, which shall be evicted to create space for the inland port.
Eng Abraham Byandala, the minister of Works told Prosper in an interview last week that the exercise would begin in March with the ministry having contracted a team of experts to execute the project
“It’s premature to ascertain the amount of money outlined for compensation before the mapping and surveying exercise that is commencing next month,” Mr Byandala said.
The government is expected to spend over $180million (Shs486 billion) on the construction of Bukasa Port.
The port will sit on close to 500 acres of land stretching into some wetland area under the National Environment Management Authority, a forest reserve under National Forest Authority and on some privately owned land.
Mr Byandala said the ministry was in the process of identifying more land for putting up a railway line and road connection to Namanve Industrial Park, through the reserve.
Connecting Uganda to Dar
The project envisaged over 40 years ago to connect Uganda to the Tanzanian Port of Dar-es-Salaam was sought as a calculated alternative to the Kampala-Mombasa route and will involve construction of a railway line from Tanga,Tanzania to Kampala via Musoma Port on Lake Victoria.
The port is expected to boost the capacity of cargo since a conventional container and multi-purpose port was suggested by the governments of Uganda and Tanzania as one of the means to curb the land locked barriers and also help facilitate movement of transit traffic (estimated at 1.5 – 2 million cargo tonnes) to neighbouring South Sudan and Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Mr Michael Mugisa, executive director of NFA said since the land had been gazzeted as part of the larger Namanve Industrial Park, which was approved by an Act of Parliament, the forestry body would locate land elsewhere for another reserve
Concerns over land grabbing
However all proposed plans have not been received well by the area residents, who accuse the government of plotting to grab their land, a view similarly held by the area MP Mr Ssemuju Nganda.
Mr Nganda said it was premature to assume that over 2,000 homesteads are facing the risk of eviction, saying it would be a plan by some government official to dupe Ugandans through awarding bogus compesations.
“I think NFA has enough land (about 3,000 acres) for the forest reserve which can be used for the port, why would the ministry want to add more land that belongs to the poor people,” Mr Nganda noted.
“They evicted people from Namanve promising to build an industrial park, which is yet to take off; instead this land has since been divided among some few government and connected individuals,” Mr Nganda said
“So we cannot trust the government, which in the presence of sufficient land for the port, wants more land for the port.”
He however noted that, no evictions will take place before proper valuation of private property and green light from Parliament.
He is yet to petition over the lack of coordination among the various government departments involved.