Panic as Top UPE School in Masaka Faces Demolition

Masaka City | The Black Examiner – Tensions are escalating within the community surrounding Hill Road Public School in Masaka City due to looming threats of demolition by individuals claiming ownership of the school’s land. Perched atop Bwala Hill in the Kimanya-Kabonera division, this government-aided school has earned recognition as a top-performing institution under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program, garnering praise nationwide.

Nevertheless, the school’s 3,504 students now face the imminent prospect of displacement as claimants press forward with plans to raze the institution to make room for private investment.

Sarah Nankyanzi, Chairperson of the Hill Road Public School Management Committee, has disclosed that a private claimant named James Taylor alleges to have acquired the land from the Indian Association of Uganda, the former owners of the school. Nankyanzi asserts that Taylor has served the school with an eviction notice to clear the path for a hotel construction project, despite an existing lease registered in the name of Masaka Municipal Council. She underscores that this marks the second instance of such claims emerging, jeopardizing the school’s operations and development prospects.

Nankyanzi pledges to stage a protest against the impending takeover of the school’s land, which she contends was erroneously disposed of by the previous Masaka District Land Board. She emphasizes the school’s crucial role in serving the predominantly low-income parents in the area, stressing that its loss would be a severe blow to the community.

Joseph Ssenzoga, Chairperson of Soweto Cell in Masaka City, raises concerns that the school’s land has gradually been subdivided by past leaders of Masaka Municipal Council who colluded with local land committees. He recalls that parents and certain leaders had previously thwarted attempts to seize the same land after confirming the existence of an active lease, questioning how another transaction was sanctioned. Ssenzoga indicates that they are contemplating petitioning the Ministries of Education and Lands and Urban Development for intervention and the annulment of the title, warning that if unsuccessful, they will mobilize a mass protest to safeguard the community school.

Denis Lukanga Majwala, the former Katwe-Butego Division Chairperson, casts doubts on the legitimacy of the ownership certificates held by the claimants. He alleges that the former Masaka Municipal Council, responsible for overseeing public assets in the area, lost numerous land titles due to unscrupulous deals and the involvement of certain technical individuals. Majwala advocates for a comprehensive investigation into the status of public assets in Masaka City to clarify their current ownership.

Vincent Okrutu, the Masaka City Town Clerk, has stated that they are presently conducting a thorough search for documents pertaining to the school’s status. He assures that despite the threats, the school will remain intact.

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