Leaders in Bugisu and Sebei sub-regions on Thursday resolved to relocate Bududa mudslide victims to Bunamputye in Bulamabuli District amidst protests from some leaders.
The decision was reached at during a consultative meeting called by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and attended by Members of Parliament, district chairpersons, minister, resident district commissioners (RDCs), security officials and other stakeholders from Elgon sub-region.
Manjiya County MP John Nambeshe and others opposed to the relocation plan allege that the land has “serious encumbrances.”
Mr Nambeshe has tasked officials from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to show proof of ownership of the 2,800 acres of land in Bunambutye Sub-county.
About five years ago, OPM officials paid Shs8b to a local Member of Parliament who is now being accused of faking the title deed.
“These people just lost their loved ones and now you want to rush and take them to Bulambuli, which is more disastrous,” Mr Nambeshe said, adding that the meeting was a ploy to hoodwink leaders.
He said the Rugunda meeting “was intended to launch resettlement of victims to Bulambuli, not a consultation”.
Mr Nambeshe and other leaders said it would have been viable if victims are relocated and resettled in the approved safer locations within the district, which include Namaitsu, Matenje, Bukari, Bubungi, Footo, Busanza, Nalwanza, Randa, and Bubungi.
Mr Sizomu Gershomu , the Bunghokho North MP, said the decision to relocate the victims to the land in question was made out ignorance. “Part of this land is a wetland and it is not fit for human settlement,” he said.
The Mbale District chairperson, Mr Bernard Mujasi, said: “Many people are not comfortable with bandwagon resettlement, that is why they keep returning home to their ancestral land.”
Despite the open rejection of relocation from some leaders, Dr Rugunda told journalists after the closed-door meeting that they had resolved that the relocation process starts immediately.
” Out of Shs32 billion that the Cabinet directed to be made available, already Shs10 billion has been released and people are going to be moved to the said land,” Dr Rugunda said.
He added: “The government will ensure that the previous mistakes are not repeated and the resettlement is done in a very coordinated manner. Implementation, is now the key element and you know many mistakes are done during implementation that is why we are consulted.”
The government secured the said land in 2013, but several people are still claiming ownership of it while others are demanding compensation.
This matter is pending in the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission of inquiry into land matters. Without tabling evidence of a genuine title deed, Mr Rugunda, however, maintained that the land is available.
“The government bought the land and the local leaders should be rest assured that the land belongs to government and now it’s going to belong to people who will be relocated there,” he said.
Mr John Musila, the Manafwa District chairperson, who welcomed the resolution said they will have to visit the land in question before resettlement starts.
“We agreed that we must visit land first and see for ourselves because there are rumours that whole land is a lake,” Mr Musila said.
The commissioner for disaster preparedness and management, Mr Martin Owor, explained that more than 900 houses will be built by the UPDF on the disputed land with 300 built in the first phase within the first four months.
“We will start next week with the launch of construction of more than 300 permanent houses and other amenities for the landslide victims, who will be first transferred,” he said.
He said the land has been divided into three plots, two for residential purposes and one for mechanical agriculture.
By Daily Monitor