President Yoweri Museveni has instructed the Ministry of Lands to start a process to compensate the Omukama of Bunyoro –Kitara Kingdom, Dr Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, for his land in Hoima and Kikuube districts, which was encroached on by settlers and developers.
The first land located at Rwengabi Village in Kabwoya Sub-county, Kikuube District, formally the traditional hunting ground of the Omukama measures 20.5 square miles, strategically located near Wairaga, Nzizi, and Mputa oil wells.
The other is a personal estate of the Omukama at Nyamiirima estate in Kyabigambire Sub-county, Hoima District measuring 100 hectares.
Thereafter, the ministry will do a systematic demarcation, survey and titling of privately-owned land in the two districts under the Land Fund to cater for landlords with large chunks of land so that the people who had encroached on their land are given rights of ownership.
Speaking during a meeting with the Omukama at Karuziika palace in Hoima town on Saturday afternoon, Lands State Minister, Ms Persis Namuganza, said that the aforesaid districts have never benefited from the Land Fund that government established to deal with land issues in the country especially, the question of absentee landlords.
According to the minister, the president wants to settle land matters in Bunyoro specifically the two districts where hundreds of people have been evicted.
She says that the process will partly address and resolve land conflicts that have persisted in the area between squatters and landlords.
“The reason for the boundary opening exercise is to make an inventory of people and property on the above land with intentions of finding a lasting solution and hand over rights to the people currently occupying the land.”
The exercise which will start on June 24, 2020, will identify pieces of land in the presidential directive and later go on to other pieces of land.
Speaking on behalf of the Omukama, the Prime Minister of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Mr Andrew Byakutaga, welcomed government’s plan of compensating the landlords including the Omukama so that tenants can settle and have registered rights on such land.
Mr Byakutaga says that “most of the land that will be taken over by the government has critical cultural sites where the King and his subjects could go and perform cultural rituals, hunting expeditions and access medicinal plants among others that needs to be protected and preserved by the government.”
He says the ancestral lands have been encroached on or occupied with limited access to it by the Kingdom and the King citing land in Kyangwali, Karuma, Kaiso, Tonya, Chopelwor and Nyamakerre among others. These have been taken over by game parks and private developers.
According to Mr Byakutaga, Bunyoro has a unique historical land question that has resulted in tension, fights, bloodshed and destruction of properties requiring special interventions from the government to resolve.
The Prime Minister adds that the current government intervention will help fight the ever-escalating land conflicts in the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.
The Hoima district woman Member of Parliament, Ms Harriet Mugenyi Busiinge, commended the government for moving to settle the land question in the area that has led to loss of lives and property, making Bibanja owners internally displaced in their areas.
“The historical injustices have haunted the people of Bunyoro for decades and this is partly the reason why capital investments are limited in the region. People have not yet been helped in registering their land due to the exorbitant costs involved. This exercise comes in handy to address it,” she said.
The Buhaguzi County legislator, Mr Daniel Muhairwe, expressed optimism that people shall not be ‘evicted like dogs’ as a result of the exercise adding that the government should ensure that those evicted from their Bibanja unfairly are duly compensated.
The Hoima District LC 5 Chairman, Mr Kadiri Kirungi, expressed concern that some government initiatives are started but are normally left hanging with no conclusion.