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Over 17,000 Balalo illegally grazing cattle in Amuru district

AMURU– A select committee of Amuru district councilors has discovered that a total of 17,017 cattle keepers, commonly known as Balalo, illegally graze their animals in the district.

The committee established that following the presidential directive that 24, 271 Balalo leave the district, only 7254 cattle keepers have left. Those still in the district continue to graze animals without adhering to the set conditions such as fencing off the grazing land and as well as establishing water sources, among others.

The committee comprising five members; Kelement Arop, Joyce Atim Keren, James Odoch, Concy Adong, and Charles Nyeko Taylor, say that the cattle keepers are spread across three sub-counties of Pogo, Lakang, and Atiak where cases of crop destruction have been reported. In Okidi North, Kalamuka village, one Paul Lukwiya lost 8 acres of maize to the marauding cows belonging to the Balalo.

At least 400 acres of food crops including cassava, maize, soybean rice, and sunflower were destroyed by the cattle with 226 acres destroyed in Pogo, 120 in Lakang, and 80 in Atiak subcounties.

Arop, who headed the select committee says the presidential team headed by Brig General Fred Sekamwenge tasked to oversee the evictions were allegedly compromised by some top government officials whose heads of cattle, were among those to be relocated from the district.

Arop says members of the community reported that the presidential team has kept on delaying the relocation of the herdsmen and their cattle, especially those belonging to top government officials.

Arop alleges that the offices of the Amuru Resident District Commissioner and the Chief Administrative Officer have failed to give proper guidance to the local leaders, which, she said,  has affected eviction operations.

Charles Nyeko Taylor, the LCV Councilor for Pogo Subcounty says they estimate over 60,000 heads of cattle roaming within the three sub-counties in the district.

Nyeko says that they also received allegations from the locals that leaders at various levels received bribes from some cattle keepers to enable them to stay in the district illegally. However, leaders have refuted the allegations.

Thomson Obong, the Amuru district Chief Administrative Officer told our reporter that all the local leaders had roles to play including monitoring, which they did as the district.

He said the reason for forming the select committee was to scrutinise, and investigate whether the evictions were done, lawfully or not, to help inform the next cause of action for the district council and the government.

In a letter dated January 10, 2022, President Museveni directed all cattle keepers in Acholi land to erect fences for their kraals to protect crop gardens and construct water sources for their animals. This directive followed a demand by the Acholi Parliamentary Group [AGP] and Ker Kwaro Acholi, the Acholi Cultural institution.

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