Govt starts forceful evictions in Sango Bay Estate to pave way for oil palm project

A bulldozer pulls down a fence of one of the squarters, Mr Faustino Muregyezi in Bukaali Village on March 18,2022. Photos/Wilson Kutamba 

What you need to know:

Out of the estimated 10,000 households, the government says it’s ready to compensate only 300 who are bonafide occupants

Government has commenced forceful eviction of people in the vast Sango Bay Estate in Kyotera District to pave the way for oil palm growing expected to start next month. 

Since Thursday, bulldozers have been pulling down structures of people who reportedly encroached on 247 square miles. 

Out of the estimated 10,000 households, the government says it’s ready to compensate only 300 who are bonafide occupants. 

According to assistant commissioner of police, Mr Godfrey Matte who is spearheading the eviction exercise, they are enforcing a directive issued by State Minister for lands, Mr Sam Mayanja last month. 

“The minister issued a directive to bury all trenches and remove fences around Sango Bay Estate land to pave way for   palm oil project but the squatters have refused to heed to his directive which prompted us to swing into action,” he said.  

He revealed that the trenches and fences belonged to Mr Faustiono Muregyezi and Mr James Nuwagira Kahira who own large cattle farms in the area. 

Last month, Mr Mayanja visited the area and advised all squatters, including Mr Murengyezi who claims to own 8 square miles to vacate the estate or face forceful eviction.   

Hajj Moses Ddumba, the Kyotera resident district commissioner said Sango Bay Estate land was earmarked for a government project [oil palm project] to benefit all people of Kyotera ,but some self-seekers are frustrating their efforts. 

“We have started with those who dug trenches and erected fences. Other squatters who have refused to voluntarily vacate are also going to be thrown out or,” he said. 

Mr Ddumba said they finished the registration of squatters last month although some refused to register and the team is studying the status of claimants before compensation kicks off. 

About Sango Bay Estate

The first attempt by the government to take over the land was in 2012, but residents strongly resisted eviction.

Initially, the Sango Bay land housed a sugar estate owned by the Sharad Patel family. It also has an airstrip, an internationally recognized wetland (Ramsar site), and four central forest reserves of Malabigambo, Kaiso, Tero, and Namalala that cover a combined area of close to 60 square miles. A big chunk of the land is currently being used by herders for grazing.