Uganda: Land Wrangle Threatens Industrial Park Progress

A land wrangle between Kayunga District Local Government and Buganda Kingdom, coupled with environment concerns, might affect the progress of a multi-million industrial park being constructed in the area.

Buganda Kingdom officials in Kayunga District led by the Kabaka's county chief (Mugerere), Mr James Ssempigga, claim the zonal industrial hub for youth and women project, which is a special presidential programme at Gangama Village, Nazigo Town Council, is being constructed on Buganda Kingdom land without permission.

Mr Ssempigga also says they are opposed to the move of cutting down the eucalyptus forest on the disputed land, which he claims was planted by Buganda Kingdom in the 1950s for purposes of conserving the environment.

The forest, Mr Ssempigga says, measures 130 acres.

"As owners (Buganda Kingdom), we were not consulted before the project was started on our land. We are strongly opposed to the destruction of the forest that was meant to conserve the environment and also provide firewood to locals," Mr Ssempigga told Sunday Monitor on Thursday.

He added: "The law stipulates that if you cut down a forest, you plant another one to replace it."

Mr Ssempigga said alternative land should be provided for the industrial hub instead of destroying the forest.

However, Mr Patrick Musaazi, the Kayunga District environment officer, said he asked Buganda Kingdom to avail proof of ownership of the land in question two years ago but they have failed.

"It is true the forest was there, but it was on government land. As a stakeholder, I cannot be mad to allow destruction of a forest that doesn't belong to the district," Mr Musaazi said.

Mr Ssempigga said the trees were being harvested and turned into timber.

Aggrieved by the move, Mr Ssempigga early this year petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, to intervene in the matter, but said he had not received any response to that effect.

"We are here to deliver our concern of free-wheeling rate of deforestation of Bugerere (Kayunga) despite the high levels of awareness among the public," the February 7 petition to Ms Kadaga, reads in part.

Buganda Kingdom spokesperson Noah Kiyinga declined to comment on the matter.

Construction of the industrial hub was commissioned last year and it is expected to benefit 11 districts in central region, including Kayunga, Mukono, Buikwe, Luweero, Buvuma, Mpigi, Wakiso, Masaka, Nakasongola, Ssembabule and Bukomansimbi.

Mr Benson Otim, the acting Kayunga chief administrative officer, said the industrial hub would act as a training centre in hands-on skills for the 11 districts.

The project

The project is intended to address the problem of high unemployment levels among the youth and women.

The Kayunga District chairperson, Mr Tom Sserwanga, dismissed Buganda Kingdom's claim to the land.

"The industrial hub is on public land and I ask Buganda Kingdom to prove ownership.

This is our land for which the district is its custodian," Mr Sserwanga said.

When this reporter visited the industrial hub project on Tuesday, construction works of structures to house the industries was ongoing, but people at the site barred us from taking pictures of the project.

Background

Land wrangles

Kayunga District is a hotbed for land wrangles. In 2010, it culminated into the burning to death of a landlord at Makukulu Village, Kayonza Sub-county, allegedly by his tenants after he reportedly attempted to sell off the land on which they lived without their knowledge.

In 2012, a total of 20 landlords fled Kayunga District after tenants reportedly declared 'war' on them.

A year later, President Museveni visited the district two times in a period of one month to try to defuse land wrangles in the area, although not so much has changed ever since.

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