LUWEERO. A section of councillors in Luweero District have vowed to rally behind hundreds of residents who are on the verge of being evicted from their ancestral land in Butuntumula Sub-county, Luweero District, which has been leased to an investor.
In a show of solidarity with the affected residents, the councillors joined the residents in a protest during Independence Day celebrations on Tuesday at Nabutaka Village in Butuntumula Sub-county.
The residents were protesting against the alleged failure by the Luweero District security committee led by the outgoing resident district commissioner, Ms Alice Muwanguzi, to stop the alleged grabbing of the land on Block 720, Plot 19 by an Asian investor.
The land originally measured 533 acres, but has since been parceled out to individual district officials.
The councillors accuse some district leaders of siding with those evicting the tenants, something they say has fuelled land disputes in the area.
“It is our responsibility as elected representatives of the people to show solidarity with those who have had their right to own land denied them by selfish individuals in the name of investors,” Ms Joy Namulindwa, a district councillor representing Luweero Sub-county, said in an interview yesterday.
According to Ms Namulindwa, the family of the late Nurman Damulira acquired a land lease for 533 acres on Block 720, Plot 19 public land at Nabutaka Village in 1979, but before the expiry of the lease, some Luweero District officials in 2012 went ahead and leased out a section of the disputed land to an Indian investor identified as Patel Punjalal Bangani.
The investor trading under the name Ndibulungi Sugar Factory, has reportedly since 2013 been extending boundaries and it is alleged that he has since encroached on more than 100 acres.
The affected residents whose crops have been destroyed, are currently living in fear of being evicted.
The Luweero District secretary for production and marketing, Mr Ssozi Bakisula, who led more than 15 district councillors to join the protesting residents, said the protest was intended to draw the attention of all stakeholders, including the higher offices in government “who have kept a deaf ear” to what is happening to them.
Mr Sulaiman Lukandwa, one of the affected residents, said constant eviction threats have crippled his plan to engage in meaningful agriculture.
Ms Aisha Ddamulira, daughter of the late Nurman Ddamulira, in an interview with the Daily Monitor, accused the office of the Luweero RDC of blocking the execution of a court order issued by Luweero Chief Magistrate instructing the parties involved in the land dispute to undertake a resurvey of the land to ascertain the actual acreage for each party.
Efforts to speak to Mr Bangani were futile as his known telephone contact was switched off by press time.
But during a consultative meeting with district stakeholders in July, Mr Bangani informed the meeting that all the allegations of land grabbing brought against his company are false because he acquired 54 hectares of land through the right procedures.
He explained that he was disturbed by the continued allegations by locals who he accused of encroaching on his land.
When contacted, Ms Muwanguzi said she was out of office and could not comment on allegations regarding the said land dispute.