2 March 2017

Uganda: Rwamutonga Evictees Return On Land After Two Years of Displacement

The evicted Rwamutonga residents have returned to land from which they were evicted two years ago, Oil in Uganda has established.

The evictees, who have been living in a camp near Rwamutonga trading center, were seen busy clearing bushes and putting up huts in the morning of Wednesday 2, February 2017. The evictees invaded Block 7 plot 44 which is registered in the names of Hoima Businessman Robert Bansigaraho.

Oil in Uganda can reveal that this move was after Bansigaraho, reached an understanding with the leader of the evictees, Mr. Nelson Atich to relinquish the title of the land to the affected community.

Bansigaraho now says that he erroneously encompassed the community land in processing a title for Block 7 Plot 44.

"While my land was approximately 40 acres, I obtained a title with 103 hectares (approximately 254 acres)," Bansigaraho confessed before Betty Amongi, Minister of Lands in a meeting held on 14th November 2016 at the Hoima District headquarters.

The meeting was also attended by the District Chairperson Mr. Kadiri Kirungi and Hoima Residence District Commissioner Isaac Kawooya.

On October 22, 2015 October, the High Court of Masindi declared that Bansigaraho "wrongfully" evicted the residents of Rwamutonga and advised them to seek compensation for the damage caused.

The evicted persons also sued Hoima Businessman Joshua Tibagwa for encroaching on their land in the process of titling Block 5 plot 34, Land at Rwamutonga in the names of Joshua Tibagwa, Tibagwa Solomon, Kusiima Robinah, Kunihira Harriet and Kaawa Lydia.

The High Court of Masindi is yet to decide on this matter.

The eviction happened in August 2014, after the two landlords struck a deal with an American Investor, McAlester Energy Resources Limited in which they agreed to sell both pieces of land at USD 1.6 Million.

The investor intended to set up an oil waste treatment facility on the land but later pulled out because of the controversy.

According to Bashir Twesigye, Executive Director Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), this move is a milestone for the evictees who have for the last three years been embattled in the court case.

"This is definitely a landmark in our advocacy work. The evictees can now live a decent life as they wait for court to pronounce itself on the cases before it" Bashir told Oil in Uganda on phone.

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