The people of Bukedi Sub- region have decried the land grabbing and illegal takeover of their resources. Bukedi Sub- region comprises six districts which include; Pallisa, Kibuku,Budaka, Butaleja,Tororo and Busia.
According to Asuman Odaka, the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) National Coordinator, Bukedi sub-region people have not gained from the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.
He accused government officials of taking over natural resources which include; the iconic Tororo Rock.
“Just any other region is facing a lot of problems. Land grabbing is at the peak. For years the Iteso and Japadhola have been fighting for the Tororo Rock which both tribes regard as their face of identity. The rock was sold to an Indian investor with a Ugandan,” he said.
He said the Tororo Hospital has no cemetery because the burial ground was grabbed and sold by some to an investor.
“Officials of Tororo Municipal Council irregularly sold the public land where unclaimed bodies were buried and instead bought an alternative land in Rubongi sub county to be used as a cemetery. The buyer immediately fenced off the public cemetery land. In 2004, the Tororo District Land Board offered a lease over approximately 1,455 hectares of Cemetery land comprising plot 14-20 Airport Road to the registered trustees of Indian origin for 49 years purportedly for purposes of a dead bodies crematorium.” he said
He further said that other public land like that of Golf Club, NARO, Airstrip, Rock High School , Robongi Barracks, King George Stadium as well as private land belonging to locals in Bukedi has since been grabbed by some top errant officials close to the ruling establishment.
“Years ago, the President went to Malaba to commission a government project- Inland Dry Port on private land. After commissioning, some officials raided the owner of the land Osuna Otwani Wilson and forced him to sign a sales agreement. He has written various letters to the responsible authorities including the President but he has not been helped,” he added.
Mr. Higenyi Kembe, a rice farmer and a resident of Butaleja district decried of government’s intention to give out land they use for farming to a Chinese investor.
“I farm rice because there’s nothing I can farm in Butaleja. The area is predominantly a wetland and we grow rice due to the existing circumstances. Therefore the economic activity is growing rice. By the way we are educated people but we have no jobs, so farming is our only source of income. Initially we grew cotton as our cash crop but the prices went down so we decided to resort to rice growing,” he said.
The farmer also lashed out at the government for intentionally favoring foreign rice farmers/dealers at the expense of their local counterparts.
“They deflate our rice prices by exposing us to cheap rice from foreign countries. They do it on purpose to keep us in poverty. We are grateful to NEED for exposing our plight to the country,” he said.
Joseph Kabuleta, the NEED president, said president Yoweri Museveni’s government has a core plan of keeping all Ugandans in poverty.
“His program of keeping Ugandans poor is spread throughout the country. He knows that 70 percent of Kibuku and Butaleja are swampy and the only viable economic activity residents can undertake is rice growing, but now he is bringing in Chinese to grow rice well knowing that it is the economic venture of the local people. He does this to keep Ugandans in poverty,” Kabuleta said.
“He first assesses the situation, gets to know what to do, then destroys your source of income. How greedy are these people? They have taken over everything,” he said.