HOIMA- Fifty three families which were evicted from land to pave way for the construction of an oil waste treatment plant by a US firm in August 2014, have finally reached an understanding with the landlord to restore them on the land.
The 53 are part of the 250 families that were evicted from Rwamutonga village, Bugambe Sub-county in Hoima District and are living in an internally displaced peoples camp.
The families, represented by Alex Latim, Petero Ausenge and Bitum Ochiri have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mr Robert Bansigaraho at Hoima Chief Magistrates Court.
The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), one of the non-governmental organisations that has been advocating the rights of the evicted families, welcomed the development.
“We are happy that 53 homes now have hope of leading a normal life again. We call upon all stakeholders that have been working with us on seeking justice for these displaced people to work even harder to ensure that the remaining people also get back their land,” Mr Allan Kalangi, the NAPE sustainability school manager, said.
According to NAPE, land grabbing is one of the biggest impediments to sustainable livelihoods and the government should come out openly to curb the vice.
The MoU states that Bansigaraho is a registered proprietor of the 248-acre piece of land on plot 44; block 7 in Hoima District whereas the families owned 40 acres, part of the land which he hold a title for.
In the MoU filed at Hoima Chief Magistrate’s Court, Bansigaraho acknowledged that he wrongly included the land of the 53 families as he processed his certificate of title with an assumption that upon receiving money from an investor, McAlester Energy Resources Ltd, he would convince them to accept compensation for their interests on the land.
In an understanding witnessed by Justice Centres Uganda, Mr Bansigaraho claimed not to have received the compensation money which the customary land owners would have received after landlords reached an understanding with the US company.
“The first party (Bansigaraho) admits to have wrongfully transferred signed transfer forms of the said land to Mr Tibagwa Joshua, Kusiima Robina and others,” the MoU dated December 7 reads in part.
However, Mr Tibagwa and Mr Kusiima insist that they reached a consent agreement with Mr Bansigaraho who handed to them a title and they are legally registered proprietors of land .