10 December 2018

Uganda: Leaders Demand Safe Relocation of Victims

Mbale — Members of Parliament in Bugisu Sub-region have cautioned government against rushing to relocate landslide victims to Bunambutye in Bulambuli District before settling hostile residents.

The MPs told the Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Mr Hilary Onek, during a brief meeting on the progress of resettlement exercise in Mbale town on Friday that it's important that government first settles the encumbrances on the 2,800 acres of land in order to secure the safety of victims.

"The government should tread carefully because one of those plots is inhabitable. The other two have claimants who are hostile. This is risking our people's lives, who are already traumatised," the woman MP Bududa District, Ms Justin Khainza, said.

Ms Khainza said the government should instead consider exploring other alternatives, including paying victims money and they resettle themselves in safer places.

"None of us has opposed the relocation of people from risky areas to safer places but government officials have continued to ignore crucial issues that need to be settled before any resettlements are made," she said.

The report

The presidential affairs committee of Parliament report on the status of the resettlement of landslide victims in the Elgon Sub-region, which was presented in Parliament last week, noted that it was not wise for the government to spend funds on infrastructure on the land characterised by ownership challenges.

The committee further found out that land title deeds used as evidence to sell Bunambutye land to government by the alleged owners were either fake or fraudulently acquired.

Government lost Shs8b to the alleged fraudulent land transaction.

Mr Sizomu Gershom Wambedde, the MP for Bunghokho North, said the Bunambutye land has no history of settlement.

"We should not be blinded. We need to have plan B," he said, adding that if victims are relocated to the area, there is likely to be sewage and sanitation challenges because the land is swampy.

Ms Rose Mutenyo, the MP for Bubulo West in Manafwa District, said the victims should not be forced to be relocated.

"The government should give the affected people money and they relocate themselves. It's cheaper, faster and timely," she said,

However, Mr Onek while responding to the issues, said he was convinced by the MPs suggestions and will examine the applicability of their suggestions.

The minister also said resettlement of the victims to Bunambutye will go on since they will commence registrations and verification of victims this week.

He, however, described the report as "satanic and evil".

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