Hoima Widow Cries Over House, Land Lost to Gov’t Project

Ms Jennifer Biingi, a widow aggrieved over unseen compensation. PHOTO/FILE

Hoima District | THE BLACK EXAMINER | A 40-year-old widow residing at Kaiso landing site along the shores of Lake Albert in Hoima District is expressing her frustration with local leaders and the Ministry of Works and Transport for forcibly acquiring her land and house without compensation.

Jennifer Biingi is among six individuals who are aggrieved by the acquisition of the same land for a project aimed at constructing a Lake Rescue Centre to enhance marine safety and security on Lake Albert, reportedly carried out by agents of the Ministry of Works and Transport.

The widow’s grievance is centered on her four-room house, which is allegedly occupied by an unidentified project developer, according to several sources, including local leaders. By late June 2023, her house had been enclosed within the project development area, with construction materials already on-site.

Advertisement

Jennifer accuses the Kaiso Village Chairman of colluding with unknown individuals she describes as land grabbers. She had left her land for safety reasons, along with thousands of Lake Albert dwellers, following flooding in 2021. She relocated to Sebagoro landing site in the neighboring Kikuube district to find means to support her family in 2022. Upon her return in November of the same year, she found her land fenced off with no clear information about the project.

She claims that in February 2023, she was informed that the government had an interest in her land and promised compensation, which had not been paid as of September 20, 2023. Jennifer asserts that she purchased the land, measuring approximately 100×150 meters, for Shs1.3 million from Mr. Sadiki Ngasirwa about 20 years ago and possesses a purchase agreement.

ALSO READ  DHO of Kisoro District in Severe Car Crash

Together with other affected individuals, they submitted a petition to the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), which initially intervened and halted the project early in the year but later determined that the project was legitimate and should proceed.

However, Jennifer alleges that the Kaiso Village Chairman does not engage with her regarding compensation or the developer’s details.

She shared the challenging journey of constructing her house while working as a cleaner for Equator Catering Services, a company supplying food to Tullow Oil at Kisinja camp, saving whatever she could afford.

With the increasing value of land and construction materials, Jennifer expects compensation of at least Shs20 million. She emphasizes the difficulty of rebuilding her life and taking care of her children, especially considering that the historic flood of 60 years had subsided.

In addition to Jennifer, 62-year-old John Atube, whose grass-thatched house collapsed due to flooding, returned to find restricted access to part of his land. He had gone to Kampala in search of survival following the flood.

Richard Baliikya, another affected person, revealed that his deceased father, Muhemba, was buried on the land taken under unclear circumstances. They have attempted to pursue compensation but are frustrated due to financial constraints.

Kaiso Village Chairman Henry Irumba claims that residents consented to the land acquisition and welcomed the project because it followed the flooding, and the government had advised flood-displaced individuals not to return for environmental reasons. He also stated that Jennifer received Shs200,000 as compensation for her house, a claim she denies.

ALSO READ  Absa Bank and Hostalite Limited Join Forces for the Green Hoima Reforestation Campaign

Hassan Kugonza, the Kabaale Sub-county Chairman, intervened in the conflict, resolving with Kaiso leaders to pursue compensation for the landowners. However, he was not able to meet the project developers and suggested that the LC1 Chairman mediate the situation.

The Ministry of Works and Transport, responsible for the Lake Rescue Facility construction, denies the claims of land grabbing. According to Susan Kataike, the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, the facility is being established on government land acquired through Hoima district local government authorities.

Jackson Mugenyi Mulindambuura, the Hoima District Local Government (HDLG) Secretary for Works and Natural Resources, has limited information about the facility and its land acquisition issues. He suggests that projects managed at the central government level may be implemented without local involvement.

Michael Muramira Kyakashari, the Hoima Deputy RDC, pledges to follow up on the matter and assures that the government does not grab land from its people.

From a civil society perspective, Bashir Twesigye, the Executive Director for Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), emphasizes the importance of adhering to the law in land acquisition, whether it is by the government or private entities. People must be notified in advance, provided with fair and timely compensation, and follow proper legal procedures.

Sylvia Kemigisa, the Chairperson for Kaiso Women’s Group, calls for concerted efforts from stakeholders to support Lake Albert shore communities, particularly women who face challenges in asserting their land rights due to illiteracy and poverty. She emphasizes the need to empower and educate these individuals to protect their rights effectively.

ALSO READ  Over 10 Acres of Marijuana Gardens Destroyed in Hoima Police Joint Operation

END

Ad Display
This ad will close in 15 seconds
Ad
WhatsApp Follow Button

Your Page Title

The Black Examiner®.

We come to you.

Want to send us a story or have an opinion to share? Send an email to editorial@examiner.co.ug or Join Our WhatsApp CHANNEL