More than 600 tenants occupying Buganda Kingdom land in Bukungulu Village, Sentema Sub-county in Wakiso District have protested planned eviction, saying there is no clear compensation plan.
Led by Mr Frank Kisuule, the affected tenants said the decision by Buganda Land Board (BLB) to evict them from the 962-acre piece of land is aimed at replacing them with the rich people who can afford apartments in the proposed satellite city.
“We bought our plots of land in Sentema because we could not raise Shs25 million needed for titled plots of land in Wakiso Town. So if they come out now and tell us to register and get ekyapa mungalo, we are poor people and don’t have the money they want,” Mr Kisuule said in an interview yesterday.
“The compensation package is also unclear, that’s why we ask the Kabaka to intervene in this matter because we are all his subjects,” he added.
Mr Kisuule wondered why BLB plans to compensate only tenants who have registered with them yet all tenants paid money to secure the pieces of land they are occupying. BLB is the business arm of Buganda Kingdom, which manages part of the assets returned to the Kabaka under the Traditional Rulers Restitution of Assets and Properties Act 1993.
‘Targeting the poor’
Ms Annet Nakibuuka, a resident in Bukungulu Village, said BLB officials are only pushing for their interests without considering those of poor residents.
“For some years Buganda Kingdom officials have been promising to construct a satellite city for poor people in Sentema and we welcomed the idea but amongst us, who will afford to buy houses of between Shs100m and Shs200m?” she said.
Recently, Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga revealed that the kingdom wants to build low-cost housing units for Kabaka’s subjects on the land.
A similar project, according to Mr Mayiga, is planned for Mpigi District and will sit on 204 acres in Mayembe ga Mbogo Village.
But during a recent meeting with the affected residents, Mr Charles Kiberu, the Kabaka’s chief in Busiro County, said only tenants who registered with BLB during the ongoing mass registration of tenants on Kabaka’s land will be fully compensated.
The exercise, the kingdom says, is meant to provide an opportunity to bibanja holders on kingdom land to document their ownership and to provide for planning and guided land utilisation. But some Baganda have opposed the programme, saying it will deprive residents of their land rights.
However, Mr Dennis Bugaya, the BLB spokesperson, allayed the residents’ fears, saying they have no intention of evicting tenants. He said they are currently holding meetings with different stakeholders to sensitise them about the planned housing project.
“We plan to start with 50 acres of land, which are vacant, as we allow all tenants around to register with BLB. After registration, they will immediately start paying nominal ground rent ranging between Shs5,000 and Shs50,000 as one way of regularising their tenancy,” Mr Bugaya said, adding: “Those who wish to work with BLB will be incorporated in the project and those who don’t want will be fully compensated.”
Mr Bugaya defended the proposed price of between Shs100m and Shs200m, saying the planned houses will be of international standard and will last more than 100 years. He said the planned housing concept will help to increase the value of land to enable tenants become loanable using their houses as security.
“We are not putting up temporary structures, but we are planning to erect good houses. Those who can afford the prices will pay and those with little money will be linked to financial institutions, which will finance them to enjoy the houses at a cheaper price,” he added.
He said the project will have a complete set of social amenities such as schools, hospitals and hotels, including a green park.
Buganda Kingdom has of late faced public criticism over the rate at which they are leasing out land, some of it occupied by Kabaka’s subjects and other housing public facilities, to private developers.
Tenant rights. Uganda’s land regulations dictate that before a landlord sells off or leases land, they must consider interests of sitting tenants by giving them the first priority to purchase the land.
According to the Land Amendment Act, 2010, tenants can resist eviction, especially if they have been paying the annual nominal ground rent.