According to Ssalongo Kayiija Sam, a resident of Kakenkeke village, Lwamaggwa parish, residents in the area were being forced off their land after two men – identified as Kimbowa Joseph and Ssekiito Julius – claimed to occupancy of the land.
“One village chairperson, Charles Kato, was approached by two men who wanted to do fish farming in our village. He promised to give people jobs and thereafter made us sign on forms that made us lose administrative powers over our land,” he narrated.
Both Kimbowa and Ssekiito were not available for comment.
In Lulagala village, Bugoma parish, there was a dispute over a piece of land between the settlers and the land owner.
Mubiru John, a resident familiar with the matter, said Fred Kibuule, the proprietor, demanded the settlers to buy from him the pieces of land they resided on, something the people were not in agreement with.
“People are being forced off the lands they have resided on for years. Most have only known this place as their home. The option of them buying themselves out isn’t viable because they have no money,” Mubiru said.
Kibuule however denied ever forcing people off the land.
“Our intention wasn’t to force the people off the land. We just wanted them to be able to own land formally,” he said.
Other areas that hand land wrangles include: Ganda Bbaale parish, Kibanda sub-county and Kyakago, Kasese in Kakinga parish.
Both areas hand the same land titles for the same pieces of land.
While addressing residents, Nabalooba resolved that area land committees need to be reviewed to avoid future land conflicts. In Kakenkeke village, the minister ordered that all area committee members be arrested and charged. She also resolved that the land title in the area be caveated.
“You have a challenged of weak area land committees. They only care about what they are to gain. These need to be reviewed to avoid future land problems,” she said.
Nabakooba also advised are local councils to be vigilant when it comes to land issues in their area.
“Area local leaders need to be extremely careful. I urge you to take your time when approached by anyone about land in your area. Ask for help were need be,” she said adding that, “some land proprietors are taking advantage of settlers who have been on their land for a long time. This is because some are ignorant about what the law says.”
The minister expressed the need to hear out the voice of such people who she says in most cases find themselves being taken advantage of.
Ssemwanga Gyaviira, Member of Parliament (MP), Buyamba constituency, reassured the residents that their land is safe from grabbers.
“As one of the leaders in the area, my primary concern to ensure that people in my constituency have their rights respected. We shall not tolerate any kind of injustices in our area,” he said.
Juliet Ssuubi Kinyamatama, Woman MP, Rakai district, acknowledged the need by local council chairpersons to be vigilant. She also said people’s voices need to be amplified in the face of injustice.