Evicted Bulambuli families appeal to government for relocation

Demonstration. Residents who claim ownership of part of Bunambutye land protest the eviction on Sunday. PHOTO BY FRED WAMBEDE

At least 200 families that were reportedly evicted last month from Bunambutye land, which government acquired to resettle mainly Bududa landslide victims, have asked government to resettle them.
The residents claim they were evicted by police and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) on the orders of the Bulambuli District Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Peter Pex Paak, on July 9.
Government acquired the land in 2013 at Shs8b.
The land in question sits on Plot 10, Block A, which is about 1,500 acres.
The families claiming ownership were living in grass-thatched huts and also had gardens of various crops, including maize, beans, cassava, millet, and rice, among others.
The locals say they started returning to their ancestral land in 2007 after government flushed out the Karimojong cattle rustlers.
During their peaceful demonstration on Sunday, police officers and soldiers patrolled the area.
Mr Moses Magomu, the chairperson of Kataa Canaan Village, said since their eviction, they have been living a horrible life.
“Our houses were demolished and our family members scattered. We are now homeless. This is our land which was sold without our consent,” Mr Magomu said.
The residents claim the Elgon County Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Ignatius Wamakuyu Mudimi, sold their land to government through a family company, Simu Oil (U) Ltd, without their consent.
However, Mr Wamakuyu has on numerous occasions denied the allegations and referred to the claimants as imposters.
Mr Ahmed Cheptai, a resident, urged the President to resettle them if the government cannot give them back their ancestral land.
“They have taken other plots but now this is what we have remained with, so they should be considerate to us. We are also Ugandans,” he said.
The government in May this year kicked off the resettlement exercise of the landslide victims in the first lot of the project after the completion of the construction of 101 houses at the site. The second phase has already kicked off and more 350 houses are to be built.
The houses are being constructed by UPDF engineering brigade, prisons and police construction unit.
Mr Paak on Tuesday, however, said the residents were only asked to leave and they did so peacefully so that government starts allocating the land to victims for farming.
“That land was sold to government and the government has the land title. We asked them to leave and they left peacefully,” Mr Paak said.
Mr Paak also dismissed allegations that soldiers and police officers looted the residents’ household items and demolished their huts.
“Those are encroachers who are peddling lies because no hut was burnt as they allege,” he said.

Allegations dismissed
The Bulambuli District Police Commander, Ms Patience Baganzi, also denied allegations of evicting residents.
The district chairperson, Mr Simon Wanazofu, said they asked residents to leave and only come back to harvest their crops.
Mr Martin Owor, the commissioner of Disaster Preparedness and Management in the Office of the Prime Minister, on Tuesday said if the affected residents have genuine claims, they should go to court.
“That land has already been allocated to landslide victims and some have already started planting and harvesting,” he said.


June. A landslide occurred in BuwalI Sub-county leaving five people dead and more than 400 displaced .
October 2018. In Bukalasi Sub-county in Suume Village, 42 people were killed and more than 500 people displaced.
2010. More than 300 people were reported killed by a landslide in Nametsi Village in Bukalasi Sub-county and government relocated the survivors to Kiryandogo.