Rift Valley Railways has vowed to evict hundreds of encroachers on its land in Kasese municipality as reconstruction plans for the railway line gain momentum.
RVR officials recently toured the land in Kasese in the company of municipal leaders. The tour came nearly two decades since the last train used the Kampala - Kasese route. An official from the Rift Valley Railways, Hope Atuhairwe, said the team was shocked to find hundreds of permanent houses had been built on railway land in Kasese town.
"Our main concern now is how to get these encroachers off the railway land because the anticipated contractors will not need them there when work starts any time. The municipal leaders should help us to get them off the land," she said.
Kasese town has seen several land grabs in the last 10 years. Encroachers took over the Industrial Area, now known as Kidodo in 2004, Kilembe Mines land which has been renamed Temangalo in 2010, and now the railway land.
Atuhairwe said when the railway line is revamped; Kasese would have an inland port linking Uganda to the Rwandan capital, Kigali and major towns in eastern DR Congo. Most of the affected buildings are in Railway Cell, Kikonzo cell and Temangalo cell, all in the central division.
The mayor of Kasese municipality, Godfrey Kabbyanga, said his council didn't sanction any building plans on the railway land. Kabbyanga urged those settling on the land in question to leave before they are forcefully evicted when the railway re-construction work starts.
"The municipal council has always been clear on the land grabbers that there is no support for them. No one has approved the construction plans on the railway land. So, the only thing to do is for those on the railway land to leave peacefully before they are evicted," said Kabbyanga.
The railway line was built in Kasese decades ago to transport copper ore from Kilembe to the smelting factory in Jinja.