Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

A section of residents who were recently evicted from Sango Bay Estate in Kyotera District have started reclaiming part of the land that was allocated for the oil palm project.

This follows the government’s delay to roll out the project, which was initially expected to kick off in April. However, the government later indefinitely halted the launch of the project to allow residents more time to look for alternative land for relocation.

Initially, an estimated 10,000 households spread in 42 villages were occupying the 247 square mile- estate, but the government said only 300 were bonafide occupants.

It is on this basis that the government sent in bulldozers to pull down structures of all illegal occupants forcing some to cross to neighbouring Tanzania.

Mr Sam Asiimwe, a former resident of Lukulavu Village, said he wants to take advantage of the current rainy season to plant crops to feed his family.

“I am renting where I am currently staying with my family. I want to use my former piece of land which is idle to grow food this season for my children,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

According to Mr Apollo Baguma, the Kyotera District Resident Commissioner (RDC), all residents who have reclaimed the project land are doing it illegally and will soon be evicted.

“As security, we have received reports that some people who had vacated the project land have now decided to return and start growing seasonal crops. This is totally wrong and we are going to push them out as soon as possible,” he said.

He said only bonafide occupants who are known to the government would be compensated.

While inspecting the project land in March, Prime Minister, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, said the project aims at lifting the standards of living millions of people, compared to a few encroachers on the land.

“We have an investor ready to employ millions of people through the oil palm project. So we cannot allow anyone to block such a development,” she said.

Oil palm growing in Uganda is already taking place in the island districts of Kalangala and Buvuma at nucleus estates and selected gardens for out growers.

In April, State minister for lands, Mr Sam Mayanja, visited Sango Bay and advised all squatters including Mr Faustino Murengyezi who claims to own 20 square miles to voluntarily vacate the estate.

“I am here to emphasize that Sango Bay Estate is government land earmarked to benefit the people of Kyotera, all titles have been canceled,” the minister said then.

About Sango Bay Estate
The first attempt by the government to take over the land was in 2012, but residents put up a spirited fight and resisted eviction.

Initially, the Sango Bay land was housing a sugar estate owned by the Sharad Patel family. It also has four central forest reserves; Malabigambo, Kaiso, Tero and Namalala, which cover 60 square miles, an air strip and internationally recognised wetland (Ramsar site). Herders are currently using a big chunk of the land as grazing ground.
The government intends to use the land to expand the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP)

By Joy

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