The leadership of Lango Cooperative Union is struggling to repossess its prime assets that were lost to private individuals.
Formed in 1952 to promote cotton growing in the greater Lango sub-region, it collapsed in the 1980s due to fluctuation of cotton prices and defaulting on loans taken from microfinance institutions by the Union’s then Board of directors
The government, a few years ago, offered to compensate the Union for the losses, and records at the Ministry of Finance indicate that at the beginning of this financial year, the government paid out Shs 2 bn under Lango War Claimants, out of a total debt of Shs 17 bn it owes the union.
However, Maxwell Akora, the Lango Cooperative Union Vice Chairperson, who doubles as Maruzi County MP, says that while the Union needs to recover all its assets in order to expand its projects, some people occupying the properties are reluctant to return them to the Union.
“We have secured our land assets located in Angayiki Village in Chawente Sub County, Kwania. The land, measuring about 1,165 hectares, is equivalent to 9 square kilometers. It had been previously claimed by the Microfinance Support Centre for sale to recover a debt of Shs 1.46 billion,” he said, adding:
“We have now found means of settling that debt and so we have secured the land. We are waiting to take possession from the court bailiff who has been evicting people from the land,” he said.
Some of the Union’s properties still in private hands include three separate pieces of land and one big plot under rehabilitation, an Administration block, and stores at plot 16, Station road in Lira City, among others.
Akora says while some of these assets were sold off by commercial banks that had attached them as after the Union failed to pay back loans, some were taken over by unscrupulous people occupying them as encroachers.
According to Akora, the Union is in the process of reassembling its maize and soya bean processing plants and factories, which would require it to own sufficient land, preferably in locations they formerly occupied.
Agnes Abote, a member of Akia Primary Society is happy with the move to repossess the Union’s assets and hopes it can help settle the rampant cases of land conflicts involving different primary societies.
“The Union’s leadership should be transparent and accountable. The Union’s record ended on a twist, but now that it has started recovering its assets, I believe this will benefit the primary societies as well as the farmers at the grassroots,” Abote said in an interview.
Tom Odoc, a farmer and resident of Acaba Sub County in Oyam district, advised the Union leadership to sell or lease out its land to investors as a potential source of revenue.
“The Angayiki land had been redundant for too long,” he argued. “The Union’s leadership should auction the land to an investor in order to get the money that may be divided to the different primary societies, facilitate the Union’s activities, or be loaned out to farmers.”
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