Crime

OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION INTERVENES IN KIRYANDONGO LAND ISSUES

By Priscillar Nyamahunge

KIRYANDONGO: The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has intervened in the land cases of Kiryandongo district which have left over 2,000 people demanding for compensation and resettlement from government.

Under their umbrella body dubbed “Bunyoro Social-Economic Advocacy for Community Development (BSEACOD),” the residents wrote a letter to the Commission on October 17th, 2018 highlighting some of the issues they are battling with which in turn need urgent intervention.

According to the letter, residents allege that there are a lot of land conflicts in Kiryandongo because of unresolved cases stemming from way back.

“The first conflict started around 1911 when people who lived around the current Murchison Falls National Park were resettled southwards upon its creation. People and institutions like churches lost their land which they still claim till today,” part of the letter reads.

However, after gazetting Murchison Falls National Park, it is alleged that people who had been resettled to the south lived ‘peacefully’ until the creation of the Karuma Wildlife reserve.

“On creation of the Karuma Wildlife reserve, these people were moved further southwards occupying today’s Kiryandongo district where they lived until the 1970’s.

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It should be noted that during those movements, land was still vast and so people were resettled without any major conflict,” the letter reads.

In the letter, residents also allege that more people were evicted between 1974 and 1976 during President Amin’s regime in the quest to establish the former Palestinian farm thus affecting communities of Kiburamatu, Kinagirana, Kyeganywa, Kibyama, Nyakagando, Kiroko, and Nyakatugo, all in Kigumba sub-county.

“Around the same time, Nyamakere and Kibeka central forest reserves were gazetted in Mutunda sub-county. The people who lived in those villages had been promised a swap and were to be given land elsewhere. However, that was not carried out,” Jacob Karubanga, the Member of Parliament for Kibanda South said. Karubanga is also a member of BSEACOD.

Karubanga said different people have been evicted from different places but there has not been any conclusive effort by government to solve the issues.

In their letter, the residents sought for formal resettlement of evictees from the Murchison Falls National Park land, Nyamakere and Kibeka forest reserves and other villages.

In response to the letter, the Commission set up a tribunal and on Tuesday held a preliminary hearing between some of the affected people together with a member from the Attorney General’s chambers at Kigumba Town Council hall, off the Kampala-Gulu highway.

Presided over by the Commission’s Vice Chairperson Joel Cox Ojuko, the session heard from the Attorney General’s representative Sarah Bingi who requested for two weeks to file a submission in response to the allegations that the affected people were raising.

However, Ojuko gave an order that the submission would be filed by March 7th , 2022.
“This complaint is of great public interest to the community of Bunyoro and should be handled expeditiously,” Ojuko said.

According to Ojuko, the ruling to determine the legality of the petition to progress for further hearing will be made on March 25 th , 2022 at the headquarters of the Commission in Kampala.

The affected are being represented by Esther Chebijira and Joseph Kakinda who are legal officers from the Commission.

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