Mbarara: Gov’t to secure land titles for over 100 families living on disputed land

MBARARA– The Uganda Land Commission [ULC] is in preparations to process land titles for over 114 families living on contested land in Rwenjeru South, Biharwe division in Mbarara City.

The plans started last Friday when a team of surveyors headed by Johnson Bighra, assistant commissioner land registration in the Ministry of Lands, carried out a survey and opened the boundaries of the said land that government claims it bought for the families through ULC.

According to Charles Begumisa, LC III chairperson Rwenjeru ward, the government bought for them approximately 114 acres in 2013 at a cost of Shs 272 million from the initial owners that have since reclaimed ownership of the land.

Begumisa acknowledged that the disputed mailo land on plot 53, block 34 belonged to one Faridah Kiribata and John Rwakamunini who continue to threaten they will evict all the families.

“In 2008 Rwakamunini and his elder brother Kiribata came with a land title of the said land and in 2013, the government called Rwakamunini and paid him all his money so that people he was threatening to evict remain bonafide occupants,” he said.

Despite government paying for the land, Begumisa said the former owners have continued to sell part of it to developers who are threatening to evict the bonafide occupants.

Begumisa said most of the locals were born from the disputed land, with some families staying on the land for the last 60 years.

He appealed to the government to speed up title processing such that the affected families can occupy their plots legally.

“This was a good initiative by government to buy land for its people and it was done in good faith. We are now appealing to President Museveni to help so that each family can have its piece of land titled,” he said.

Jonan Natwijuka, the LC I chairperson in the area said the affected locals are unsettled with the continuous threats of eviction.

“My people cannot sleep nor do any activity on the disputed land. Actually, last month some of our residents were arrested and jailed over the same matter,” Natwijuka said

Jovat Kihembo,45, said as occupants, they are wondering if government bought the land through the right channels or if it sold off the land.

“Government claims it bought for us this land in 2013, and so we want government to confirm the true custodians of this land since the former owners are still living on it and threatening us,” she said

During the boundary opening, Bighra said government was in control of everything, appealing to residents to keep calm.

He advised claimants with land titles on the contested land to take them to the lands commission for assessment.

“There is no person who has the authority to chase people who have stayed on the land for over 12 years. So for those of you who claim to be having land titles, come to lands office we shall advise” Bighra said.

Robert Kanusu, the deputy resident city commissioner Mbarara City North attributed the land wrangle at Rwenjeru to what he said cheap politics.

“Minus politics, the Rwenjeru issue is very simple to solve. Politicians always go to the area, peddling lies. And I believe there are some people who never wanted boundaries to be opened because it favours them to use the whole land,” Kanusu said.

He commended the land commission for opening boundaries to help the government identify the land it bought for the people in the area.

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