SANGO BAY: Over 30000 residents living on Sango Bay contested land are in constant fear over looming eviction. The residents accuse local government leaders under the command of the Resident District Commissioner Apollo Mugume and CP Godfrey Bolingo Maate of planning to evict them from the land in violation of a lawful court order.
Mr. Maate is overseeing the vacant possession of the land.
The residents say they have stayed on Sango Bay land for decades. They allege that on orders of Mr. Maate, security officials are torturing them, destroying their crops and property with a view of forcing them to vacate land against their will.
In an interview, a section of residents accused security forces of torture and blocking them from accessing water sources and their gardens.
They add that efforts to seek redress are rendered fruitless while their colleagues were arrested and imprisoned on various criminal charges.
Francis Kizza, Kyebe Sub County LC III chairperson says that Mr. Maate and his team have mistreated people but questioned the basis of the power that they are using.
People’s crops and houses have been destroyed through illegal eviction, yet they have not been compensated or relocated as had been agreed in their joint meetings with the lands minister.
He adds that there is no proper plan for the affected occupants on the land, yet they have been given an eviction notice.
“This whole exercise has been abused. When we inquired from the district administrators as lower local government administrators on the matters at hand, they said they didn’t know but on our search reports, we got to know that Kyotera District administration had been given a share of more than 1401 acres of land in the Kasanvu an indication that they had got their share and hadn’t bothered upon the original natives,” Mr. Kiiza says.
Mr. Matte denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the accusations as malicious.
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) tribunal recently issued an injunction restraining the government and other respondents, their agents, workmen, servants, and anyone acting under their authority or direction from trespassing, burning, and destroying crops, livestock, and property and forcefully evicting the residents off their land until the determination and final disposal of the application.
“I am also satisfied that there is a real threat and imminent danger to the suit land before the disposal of the substantive application,” Sseruwagi wrote in a ruling delivered last week.
“In the premises, Interim Orders are hereby granted to maintain the status quo on the suit land until Miscellaneous Application No.30 of 2023 and EOC/CR/753/2023 are disposed off and I hereby direct expeditious investigations and hearing of this matter,” he added.
Measuring 247 square miles, the land covers Kakuuto, Kabira, Kyebe, and Kasasa sub-counties and the Mutukula town council. It was formerly leased to the defunct Sango Bay Sugar Estate Limited but reverted to the central government following the expulsion of Asians in 1972.
The government repossessed it for the expansion of the National Oil Palm Oil Project, which is being implemented under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries.