21 June 2018

Uganda: Locals, Army in Row Over Land Boundaries

Gulu — Residents of Kanyagoga A village, Bar-dege Division in Gulu Municipality have accused Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) engineering brigade, from the Fourth Infantry Division barracks, of forcefully extending the military base boundary into community land.

The accusation follows an ongoing construction of fences by the army around the military facility that covers approximately four square miles.

According to the locals, the infrastructural development has seen some access roads closed, and parts of community land encroached on.

Ms Safia Aber, a mother of six and one of the affected residents, told Daily Monitor in an interview on Tuesday that the UPDF engineers have dug up holes on her father's land with the intention of constructing a fence.

"The UPDF engineers came on Monday and just directed their personnel to dig up holes for constructing a fence. They told me the land belongs to the Fourth Infantry Division yet our family members have been settling on it for ages," Ms Aber said.

Retired Warant Officer Christopher Jogo, a resident of the area, says access to his home has been cut off since the army fenced off one of the main roads used by majority locals.

The Bar-dege Division chairperson, Mr Patrick Lumumba, said the UPDF engineering brigade conducting the exercise is manually pointing out locations to erect concrete fence pillars without following exact coordinates of the barracks boundary.

But the Fourth Infantry Division spokesperson, Maj Telesphor Turyamumanya, told Daily Monitor in an interview that the allegations are baseless and instead accused the locals of encroaching on army land.

"We have embarked on fencing the barracks land to improve on security of the military base. It is also to help us push out the locals who had encroached on the army land when its fence collapsed a few years ago. The army has no intention of grabbing people's land," he said.

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