Three years later, Kiryandongo evictions’ trauma, wounds still fresh

Ms Anna Maria Mukabariyanga, a mother of four, is one of the people that have tested the wrath of Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, one of the multinational companies that have evicted more than 35,000 people to pave way for different projects.

Ms Mukabariyanga, a resident of Ranch 23 was allegedly attacked by security operatives of Kiryandongo Sugar, beaten and thrown out of her house on the fateful night that left many homeless.

She was pregnant and in the process, she had a miscarriage.

“I was eight months pregnant when the armed operatives attacked us, beat me up on the back. My husband was away and had no one to come to my rescue. I was thrown down by one of the evictors who continued beating me,” says Ms Mukabariyaga.

“In five days, I started bleeding but could not go to the hospital because I did not have money and later on I lost my child. However, I was later taken to Kiryandongo Hospital by neighbours in the area I had moved to,” she adds.

Such violent repression is the tale of villagers in Kiryandongo who were never consulted or given information privy to the eviction.

“I heard notices over the radio that people should prepare to have their land valued for compensation but that did not trickle down to us in form of meetings,” said 78-year old Mr Edward Bakaikara, a resident of Kakoba village in Kitwara sub-county, Kiryandongo district talking to Witness Radio.

Mr Bakaikara says, the advert ran for two months and later evictions started.

“I was born and raised on this land by the late Kamiri Kajura. My siblings and I have been staying here since childhood. They cultivated and lived on 400 hectares as a family”. He narrates.

“I had also developed the land as a farmer, but all crops were destroyed, I have nothing to feed the family on.” He added.

“Our hearts are broken. Our children are not going to school and we do not have food. We are very angry and hungry too,” another resident only identified as Joyce chorused in as Mr Bakaikara told his story.

Before the agribusiness companies came in, a famer identified only as Mr Badudu and the other small farmers of Kiryandongo planted beans, maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, groundnuts, cassava, and mangoes, and reared pigs, goats, and cows.

Much of their former land is now occupied by sugarcane, coffee, soya bean, and maize which are all solely exported for profits.

Mr Joseph Walekula, one of the community leaders in Kiryandongo says many people have been turned into beggars and reduced to working on land that they used to own.

“When Kiryandongo Sugar Company Limited came in, people lost their land, no due compensation was done. Many people joined refugee camps where they live up to now, others ran away, and we don’t know where they are,” says Mr Walekula.

Witness Radio reports that this is all happening under the watch of government bodies and security agencies like police that have instead turned against the communities in defence of the investors.

About Kiryandongo Sugar

Kiryandongo Sugar is owned by the Rai dynasty operating agribusiness and timber activities in Uganda, DR Congo, Kenya and Malawi.

One of its directors is a shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company which was listed in the Panama Papers database

It arrived in 2017, owns about 2,400 hectares of a sugarcane plantation project in Kiryandongo and one of the three multinational projects that have continuously evicted people in the area.

Other multinational investors

Others are The Great Season SMC Limited, a Dubai-based company reportedly owned by Sudanese businessmen building a coffee plantation on 1,165 hectares and Agilis Partners, a company owned by US businessmen and backed by several foreign development agencies and “social impact” investors establishing a large-scale grains farm on around 3,850 hectares.

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