By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA
At least 5,000 people occupying Railway Reserves across the country have voluntarily vacated even when government has extended the deadline to next year.
"5,000 people have already voluntarily vacated," the public notice signed by Uganda Railway Corporation (URC) Managing Director, Mr Stanley Ssendegeya reads in part.
The six-month ultimatum which URC gave all squatters elapsed September 30.
But last week, URC issued a notice- extending the deadline to March 30, 2022 after many encroachers complained that they needed more time to organise for relocation.
"The affected public members made various requests including an extension of the period within which to vacate the Railway land," Mr Ssendegeya said.
URC seeks to reclaim its land to revamp the century-old railway lines across Uganda.
URC data shows that about 14,000 people have been conducting various activities on railway reserves as of April, 2021.
"These people have been registered and can leave within the next 180 days as their particulars are known. Engagement with them and their leaders will continue and will be concluded before March, 302022," he said.
However, Mukono District Speaker, Ms Betty Nakasi said URC is going to find an uphill task evicting the said encroachers as some legally acquired the land and possess titles.
"Let the government first compensate the affected people," Ms Nakasi said via telephone on Sunday.
This is not the first time URC has threatened to repossess its land.
In 2014, over 80,000 encroachers on the railway line reserve in Busega ,Nateete ,Nalukolongo, ,Ndeeba ,Kibuye,Katwe, Namuwongo,Kinawataka , Banda,Kireka, Bweyogerere and Namanve were asked to vacate in 28 days to allow Kampala Capital City Authority and URC revamp railway transport in the city.
However, the encroachers still occupy the railway line reserve to date.
Last December, the Works Minister, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala appointed a land investigations committee to among others, establish boundaries of all the Uganda Railways land and the land ownership status.
The committee was expected to provide monthly reports and provide to the minister while also sensitizing residents who encroached on the land.