Scent of more bribes as agric committee’s report on Maruzi ranch delays

After what has been baptized as fraudulent processes saw Maruzi ranch in  Maruzi County, Apac district being leased at paltry shillings 9.3 million to a Kenyan investor, a lot of questions hasn’t been answered by those in authority.

Maruzi ranch, which is 64 square miles, 42,139 acres, was given to the then Lango District Local Government in 1969 by Lango natives.

In their offer to central government, the natives wanted animal multiplication and beef production, a request that was granted in a gazette.

The ranch was soon leased for a period of 90 years to now defunct Uganda Livestock Industries Limited, in whose title it was to do cattle ranching and beef productions.

For nearly thirty years, as there was no viable economic activity taking place on the land, now in contestation, nor condition for which it was leased, more than 4,000 locals found refuge there.

However, in 2016, government say it wanted to use the land, by giving it off to an investor, purposely for Palm Oil production.

In doing so, Uganda government got Hillside Agriculture Limited of P.O. Box 215 Jinja and leased them 13,987.860 hectares (part) of the ranch.

The company, whose records, both in Uganda and Kenya has been termed dubious by Ishaa Otto Amiza, the former Oyam South MP, acquired the ranch at Uganda shillings 9.3 million, for 50 years.

Using analogue system, instead of now recommended Land Information System (LIS), Hillside Agriculture Limited was issued a forged land title 7, September, 2018 even when Apac District Land Board had caveated it.

It should be recalled that the genuine land title was issued on 29, April, 1969 to Uganda Livestock Industries Ltd.

Addressing the media at National Theatre in Kampala on Monday, Otto, says civic mobilisation of affected locals, now being forcefully evicted by state security forces, is what they are up to.

The former MP, Otto, who says his clan members are among those being brutally, forcefully and heartlessly evicted, wants Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture to immediately table before Parliament a comprehensive report on their findings.

This follows a directive by Parliament Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga to Committe Chairperson, Janet Okori-moi, the Abim district Woman MP to go with her team of MPs to the ground (Maruzi Ranch) on fact finding mission.

Numerous attempts to get comments from chairperson agriculture committee of Parliament, MP Janet Okori who got facilitated with her team to reach Maruzi ranch, and table a report in the August House within shortest time possible, were all futile by press time

Earlier, the Kwania County MP, Tony Ayo had moved a motion on the floor of Parliament over the land (ranch) give away.

“There is wide suspicion that the committee on agriculture could have been bribed or has connived with the fraudsters in the ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the purported investor to frustrate, interfere and delay the report suspectedly for the bribes that is flowing in the corridor of Parliament,” Otto added.

Mr. Otto further warns the community shall not lie low but shall resort to civil action to save this ranch from the fraudulent give away

Demolitions of locals’ huts ongoing. Photo taken using phone.

Apac district LC5 chairperson, Mr. Bob Okae, who is among leaders said to have been bribed, denies receiving bribes from investor.

However, Okae admits that the investor transported them (Apac councilors) to Kalangala district, paid them allowances during their study tour. More on this, coming soon!

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