Compensate us, Lubigi wetland evictees tell Buganda Kingdom

Some of the houses Nema officials demolished in Wakiso Sub-county, Wakiso District, over encroachment on Lubigi wetland on May 27, 2024. PHOTOS | NOELINE NABUKENYA

What you need to know:

  • Buganda Kingdom says the locals could have been duped by masqueraders into settling on the wetland. 

Families whose houses were demolished by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) in Ganda-Nasere Village in Wakiso Sub-county, Wakiso District, have asked Buganda Kingdom for compensation.

The affected families claim it is Buganda Kingdom officials who hoodwinked them into occupying Lubigi, a gazetted wetland.

They also claimed the same officials have been collecting annual ground rent for Buganda Kingdom, commonly known as busuulu,  from residents.

According Mr Simon Nyanzi, a resident of Ganda –Nasera Village and a leader of the evictees, they will not relent until they get  justice .

“We are going to write letters to different authorities, starting with the village chairperson up to the highest office in the country,” Mr Nyanzi told Daily Monitor  on Tuesday.

 “We have all the receipts indicating the amount [of money] each of us has been paying with a stamp of Buganda Land Board (BLB),” he added.

BLB is the business arm of Buganda Kingdom, which manages the kingdom’s properties.

Mr Twaha Kajumba, who claims to be a prince from Buganda Kingdom, said they are lawful bona fide occupants of Mailo land. However, he said Nema’s enforcement team evicted them without any prior notice.

“Being a prince of Buganda, I was occupying a piece of land for my brother,  Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II (the  king of Buganda).  How could Nema claim that I am encroaching on a wetland?”  Mr Kajumba asked.

He revealed that he acquired the piece  of the  land in 2006 and sold plots  to different people, some of whose houses have since been demolished.

Homes and structures for more than 1,000 households in villages of Ganda –Nansera, Nansana West II ,Masanafu and Namungoona have in the last couple of weeks  have been demolished.

Mr Jibril Ssekasi, another affected resident confined to a wheelchair, said he has been paying Shs40,000 as busuulu  for the past five years.

“If the land is in a wetland, why did Buganda Land Board continue to collect money from us? We need to b e compensated,” he said.

Mr Ssekasi said he bought his plot of land through the chairperson of Ganda Village who stamped the sales agreement.

“Different people including officials from Nema and the municipal council visited the site when I was building my house and I gave them money,” Mr Ssekasi said, adding that they, however, did not give him receipts.

He asked the Nema team to go back to the area and draw clear boundaries for the wetland to avoid more conflicts in future.

One of the evictees and a widow, said she has since been sleeping in the cold with her five children .

Mr Israel Kazibwe Kitooke, the spokesperson for Buganda Kingdom, said the land in Lubigi belongs to Buganda Kingdom ,but since it is a wetland ,it is  supervised  by the government.

 “We own land in such places [like Lubigi wetland] ,but Nema is  in-charge of supervising such natural resources, ” he said, adding, “Let our people ensure that before occupying kingdom land anywhere,  they first visit Buganda Land Board offices and get guidance .”

He explained that the affected residents could have been duped by individuals masquerading as BLB staff.

In a meeting with the Wakiso District security committee on May 28, Dr Barirega Akankwasah, Nema executive director, said the crackdown on wetland encroachers in different parts of Kampala Metropolitan area is still ongoing.

He has asked encroachers to vacate.

About Lubigi wetland

Lubigi wetland is one of the marshlands that have been encroached on in Wakiso and Mpigi districts.

Section 36 of the National Environment Act provides for retricted use of  wetlands.

In 2017, Nema warned that should Lubigi dry up, the entire Central Cattle Corridor, which includes Luweero, Nakasongola and Nakaseke among other districts will grapple with water shortage.