The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has advised residents occupying army land in Lukaya Town Council to seek refund from the town council authorities who reportedly sold to them part of the land.
The disputed land, comprising Mwota Block 181, Kirinnya Block 184, Lukaya Block 185, Kalungi Block 145 and Kawanda Block 146 measures 463.43 hectares and is home to more than 200 residents.Capt Ibrahim Ssekitto, the spokesperson of Masaka-based Armoured Brigade, said the army wants to set up different development projects on the land.
“The army legally acquired that piece of land and we plan to use it in the near future and whoever is there is an illegal tenant,” Capt Ssekitto said in an interview on Monday.
“I advise the encroachers to demand for a refund or seek legal action against town council officials to recover their money,” Capt Ssekitto said.
Some residents claim that they bought part of the army land from Lukaya Town Council authorities 30 years ago.
This publication has learnt that when the army abandoned the land in the 1970s, Lukaya Town Council authorities took over it and sold part of it.
The Bulakati Army land has for a long time been a sticky issue, attracting the attention of leaders at all levels.In 2017, the Ministry of Defence issued a notice of eviction to the tenants through district authorities, instructing all encroachers to vacate the land. However, this never happened.
The Minister for Defence, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, who was then the Kalungu East MP, said encroachers had been cleared to utilise part of the land while the remaining part would be used to establish an industrial park.
But Capt Ssekitto said this was “a political gimmick” since there has never been such a resolution .
Mr Edward Ssentongo, the chairperson of Juma Cell , said residents possess receipts showing that they bought land from the town council .
“If they were duped, that is a different issue. The town council is an administrative unit within government and they should find a way of resolving this matter without necessarily evicting the people,” he said.
Mr Charles Tamale, the Lukaya Town Council chairperson, said they had earlier reached an understanding with the old army council to allow residents to occupy part of the land .
“Unfortunately, this was not documented. Our challenge now comes with the new army council. We wrote to the Uganda Land Commission on September 2, who will then have to officially write to the army council so that they can give us a no objection,” he said
During one of his visits to Masaka Sub-region four years ago, President Museveni said the government had a plan to establish an industrial park at Bulakati.
Compiled by Al Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Richard Kyanjo and Noeline Nabukenya.