Evicted Hoima residents return, clash with guards

Monday September 1 2014

One of the residents Wycliff Ayebale picks some of the maize that

One of the residents Wycliff Ayebale picks some of the maize that remained in his house that was torched during the eviction of residents in Rwamutonga village in Hoima District. Photo by Francis Mugerwa 

By Francis Mugerwa

Hoima- Residents who were evicted from a chunk of land in Rwamutonga village in Bugambe Sub-county at the weekend clashed with private guards deployed to guard the area where an investor wants to set up an oil waste plant.
The 150 families that were forced off the land last Monday, returned to the land the following day prompting security officials to ask the guards to disperse them.

The Katanga Parish chairman and area councillor, Mr Nelson Atichi, said the residents who had gathered under trees after their houses and gardens were destroyed, were shocked when they were attacked by security officials. The clashes occurred last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Midwestern regional police spokesperson, Ms Lydia Tumushabe, said police have been deployed in the area to ensure law and order prevail. She said the owners of the land contracted, Standby Security Guards to secure the land.

“The guards have complained that they were attacked by residents who were armed with arrows and bows. The owners of the land reported cases of criminal trespass and malicious damage,” Ms Tumushabe said.

Eight people have been arrested in connection with the clashes and they are held at Hoima Police Station, Ms Tumushabe added.

Hoima District chairman George Bagonza, who described the eviction as unfortunate and an early symptom of an oil curse, said the clashes foiled attempts by the district to deliver an assortment of food items to the evicted families.

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“The families should have been compensated before being evicted as provided for under the law because they are bonafide occupants. Such evictions create a social burden on the district local government,” Mr Bagonza told a news conference.

Court bailiffs on Monday demolished the houses that had been erected on the land, amidst protests from the affected families.

FACT BOX

• The residents and Mr Tibagwa and battling for the land in suits 001 of 2012 and 033 of 2012 at Masindi High court.
• Land wrangles are on the increase in Bunyoro subregion following the discovery of commercially viable oil deposits in the Albertine grabben.
• Various investors are rushing to acquire land in the region to set up projects that can target the supply chain of the lucrative petroleum industry.

fmugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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