6 December 2012

Uganda: Locals Block Kasese Airfield Upgrade

People in Kasese have sought a High Court injunction in Fort Portal blocking the upgrade of Kasese airfield to an international airport. Pastor Lenard Kasereka, one of the petitioners, said they are unhappy with the money Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) paid in compensation for their land that would be taken over by the airfield upgrade.

"We are not going to seat down and see government fooling us we have gone to court and we have petitioned the minster for works to halt the construction of the airport on grounds that we were paid less money for our land," Kasereka said.

Kasereka claimed that the government valuer had undervalued their land by paying each of the 600 claimants Shs150,000 per acre of land.

"It is four years down the road since we registered our complaints with CAA but we have never got any feedback," Tumbokubwa Kambale, another petitioner said.

However, CAA spokesman Ignie Igundura dismissed the residents' claims as baseless.

"We used the government valuer to value land and there is no way those people can claim that we underestimated their land," Igundura said after meeting the affected people at Hotel Margherita.

The land in question is located in Kanyangeya parish in Nyamwamba division in Kasese municipality. Kambale revealed they agreed to withdraw an initial law suit against government after they were urged to negotiate but nothing has changed.

However, in 2008 the government reportedly paid over Shs3 bn to over 600 residents of Kanyangeya, Saluti A and B for the land in question.

Kasese municipal council mayor Godfrey Kabyanga has said they will not tolerate anyone blocking the upgrade. "As far as I know these people were paid and they should leave," Kabyanga said.

Of the original 600 people compensated only 100 are still living in Kanyangeya and could be evicted soon. In February, president Museveni, during the Tarehe sita celebrations in Kasese, announced that a contractor was ready to start work as soon the compensation is concluded.

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