Minister halts eviction of over 500 residents in Kasanje

Lands minister Ms Judith Nabakooba. PHOTO | FILE | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • In the meeting at Kasanje Town Council headquarters that was under tight security, the tenants accused Mr Rutagambwa of creating access roads on their pieces of land without their consent.

The Minister of Lands, Ms Judith Nabakooba, has stopped the eviction of more than 500 residents from a disputed piece of land at Bukaalaza Village in Kasanje Town Council, Wakiso District.

Ms Nabakooba dispatched a team to meet the warring parties and seek a lasting solution at the weekend.

Mr Sebastian Rutagambwa, the proprietor of Prime Housing Estate, said he owns the disputed 100 acres while residents insist they are the rightful owners with some claiming to have been occupying the land for more than 40 years.

 In the meeting at Kasanje Town Council headquarters that was under tight security, the tenants accused Mr Rutagambwa of creating access roads on their pieces of land without their consent.

On the other hand, Mr Rutagambwa accused the residents of selling bibanja (plots) on his land without informing him.

“I have been occupying my land for more than 50 years and I have been paying nominal ground rent. My land has more than six acres, but the purported land owner wants to give me 2.5 acres and he takes the rest of it which I cannot accept because I am ready to pay for my whole piece of land if that’s what he wants,” Ms Mary Mukasa Namusisi, one of the affected residents, said. 

Mr Achileo Wasswa, another resident, said he bought his piece of land in 2014.

“I was shocked to learn that he [Rutagambwa] was planning to evict us. I appeal to the government to intervene so that the sitting tenants aren’t disorganised,” he said. 

Mr Rutagambwa said he lawfully acquired the 100 acres of land in 2018 from the late Lubato Mubiru and some sitting tenants who have been willing to surrender part of the land to him so that they get titles and legalise their occupancy.  

“I have been in negotiations with sitting tenants and some even signed documents to allow me create access roads, but I am surprised that they have turned against me,” he said.

Room for dialogue

He accepted to continue dialoguing with the sitting tenants to resolve the impasse.

Mr Baker Mugayino, who represented Ms Nabakooba, said Mr Rutagambwa had no right to evict tenants so long as they have been paying nominal ground rent. 

He also directed the tenants to stop selling their bibanja without notifying the landlord.

“We have realised that both parties don’t  know their rights because the bibanja owners were selling part of the land without the consent of the landlord and also the landlord didn’t know that before he sells part of the land, the first priority has to be the bibanja owners,” he said.

“Therefore, we have stopped any evictions and no further developments should be done on the disputed land until the matters are resolved,” he added. 

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