Kalangala residents defy order to vacate disputed public land

Thursday August 06 2020
news02pix

Residents of Katale–Buswaga Village in Kyamuswa Sub-county, Bukasa Island attend a meeting to settle land disputes on August 18, 2019. FILE PHOTO

Mr William Lugoloobi, the chairperson of Kalangala District, says unscrupulous people have taken advantage of the absence of a district land board committee to steal land.

Residents on Bukasa Island in Kalangala District have continued to acquire plots on the disputed public land in disregard of a directive by district authorities.

During a meeting with residents on August, 18, 2019 at Katale-Buswaga Village, Bukasa Island, the district leaders halted allocation of public land in the area, citing irregularities in the application process.

In the meeting, it was also resolved that residents be allowed to harvest their food for one season and thereafter voluntarily vacate the land.

This came after information emerged that private individuals and some unscrupulous district officials had acquired plots on the 178-acre piece of land at Katale–Buswaga Village, Kyamuswa Sub-county, Bukasa Island.

Mr Godfrey Kutesa, a resident at Buswaga Village, said many residents have, however, continued to expand their gardens into the neighbouring Bukasa Central Forest Reserve.

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“Encroachers have reclaimed about 80 of the 178 acres of the land, where they have grown banana and coffee plantations.
“When I tried to consult some concerned officials at the district on the matter, they accused me of meddling into other people’s affairs,” Mr Kutesa said in an interview on Tuesday

He accused Mr Samuel Ssengooba, the village vice chairperson, of encouraging more squatters on the land.
Mr William Lugoloobi, the chairperson of Kalangala District, said unscrupulous people have taken advantage of the absence of a district land board committee to steal the land.

“As we wait for approval of the new district land board, we recently endorsed the area land committee to handle land application process, which was not done .Therefore, all those who are currently using that land are encroachers. We shall soon go there and evict all the illegal occupants,” Mr Lugoloobi said .

The Kalangala Resident District Commissioner, Mr Daniel Kikoola, said they allowed a few residents to harvest their food and thereafter re-apply for ownership of their bibanja [plots], which many have failed to do .

Land acquisition in Kalangala has in the last decade become so competitive since many people are settling in the area to invest in hospitality business while others are engaging in growing rice and oil palm, which are the key economic activities for islanders, after fishing.

Background
Land. Kalangala District owns 200 acres of land on Bukasa Island. It is also pushing for acquisition of 200 acres on Bugala main island for expansion of Kalangala Town.

However, the proposed piece of land is part of the 430 acre of Lutoboka Forest Reserve, which can only be de-gazetted after parliamentary approval.

If Parliament approves the de-gazettement of part of the reserve, district authorities plan to give National Forestry Authority some 193 hectares in compensation for a new forest.
Mr William Lugoloobi, the chairperson of Kalangala District, said they want the land for a prison, mortuary and public cemetery.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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