By Ronald Kakembo
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Hon .Judith Nabakooba has stopped the eviction of an estimated 3,000 people who are settled on some three square miles of land in the greater Masaka sub-region .
The disputed land in question includes three square miles in Nakigga Kasanje, Bukoto East owned by Nakigga Ranching Cooperative Society and another 324 acres in Kyesiga which is occupied by the Kasanje Bibanja Owners Association.
Nabakooba has visited the two areas after receiving a letter from the Deputy Speaker Hon. Anita Among asking her to intervene in the land wrangles after Bukoto East legislator Ronald Kanyike petitioned parliament over the matter .
While addressing the worried residents , Nabakooba reiterated government firm stand that bibanja owners should be protected from the numerous illegal evictions . She told the residents that president Yoweri Museveni had assigned the land ministers to bring to an end the rampant illegal land evictions in the country .
“ During my term in this office, I have therefore prioritized the issue of land evictions -which must stop,” Nabakooba stated . She explained that when she assumed office, the President Museveni tasked her to help address the rampant land evictions across the country. The Minister assured the residents that her Ministry was going to investigate the matter to find out how the disputed land was converted from leasehold to freehold land tenure system .
She directed the area RDCs and DPC to carry out thorough investigations about the people who broke away from the Cooperative and registered the disputed land in their names. She advised the area MP Ronald Kanyike to get lawyers and enter a caveat on the disputed land until the ownership and bibanja Holders issues are resolved to ensure equity and fairness.
Nabakooba tasked the law enforcement officers in the district to maintain the status quo on the land . “The RDC , DPC and DISO should ensure that no one is evicted until investigations are completed and a decision is taken by government on the matter.
“We are going to bring in parliament a land law amendment bill. It is intended to help these bibanja people and we do not want to politicise the idea. These are some of the problems the new law will help to resolve . We want to have the bibanja holders settled without fear of evictions,” she stressed Hon. Kanyike thanked the minister for visiting the area to help iron out the land wrangles. He said there are over 3000 people on the land who have sleepless nights over possible evictions.
“We request you to cancel these land titles after your investigations so that the people here can get justice. Most of these people are pastoralists and will do whatever it takes to survey this land to claim their ownership.”
“I will not stop coming to your office, I want this Bukakata area to be free from this land grabbing phenomenon. We kindly request that a one Fabian Matovu and the living relatives of the other three signatories on the land titles be investigated.”
In Kyesiga, Bukoto Central, Minister Nabakooba directed John Bukenya, a custodian of the land in question to work with the bibanja owners to forge a way forward rather than evicting them off their land. “Mr Bukenya and the Jaggery people, this land has tenants on it. These bibanja people are on the land so you need to sit and talk to them to find an amicable solution. We shall not allow bibanja owners to be evicted yet they were born and have lived on land, for many years.”
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