Govt clears residents to use Army land in Lukaya

Monday October 28 2019

Green light. Bulakati market is also on  part

Green light. Bulakati market is also on part of the land belonging to the Army. PHOTO BY MUZAFARU NSUBUGA 

By MUZAFARU NSUBUGA & WILSON KUTAMBA

Encroachers on land belonging to Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) at Bulakati in Lukaya Town Council, Kalungu District, can breathe a sigh of relief after government cleared them to utilise it.
The said land, comprising Mwota Block 181, Kirinnya Block 184, Lukaya Block 185, Kalungi Block 145 and Kawanda Block 146 measures 463.43 hectares, is home to more than 200 residents.
The army has for long been in wrangles with squatters, whom they accused of illegally settling on their land.
In 2017, the Ministry of Defence issued a notice of eviction to the tenants through district authorities, instructing that all encroachers vacate the land with immediate effect.
However, according to the Agriculture Minister, who is also the area MP, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the matter has since been resolved.
“We had several meetings with the President and UPDF officials and we agreed that we allow all residents who encroached on this land to use it while the other remaining part is utilised by investors to start up an industrial park,” Mr Ssempijja said.
The minister made the revelation last week at a function organised to celebrate ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) achievements in the last three decades at Bulakati playground in Lukaya Town.
However, the chairperson of Juma Cell, Mr Edward Ssentongo, described the minister’s statement as a political gimmick.
He said they will only be sure about their safety after receiving documents from government.
Mr Ssempijja said before Christmas, all squatters will be given documents confirming their legal occupancy on the land.
Residents claim that they had bought part of the army land measuring 50 hectares from Lukaya Town Council authorities who hoodwinked them that they were the rightful custodians of the land.
Some claim they have occupied part of this land for more than 30 years.
Gen Salim Saleh, the coordinator Operation Wealth Creation, who also attended the function, asked political leaders and technical staff in Lukaya Town Council to make arrangements and meet him to discuss how best they can establish an industrial park in the area.
Background
During one of his visits to Masaka Sub-region two years ago, President Museveni said establishing an industrial park at Bulakati was a viable undertaking since old towns such as Masaka were established as commercial towns and industries cannot be set up there.
“We really need such towns [industrial towns] and the government is ensuring that they are established..,” Mr Museveni said.
“I agreed that un-encroached piece of land at Bulakati be turned into an industrial estate in addition to that of Nabugabo, Masaka District,” the President added.
But recently, Mr Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West MP, who also doubles as the district Democratic Party chairperson, described the proposed industrial park at Bulakati as another ‘fictitious pledge’ by NRM government to the people of Kalungu.

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