For those who had thought government was planning to compensate hundreds of locals surviving on Maruzi Ranch in Maruzi County, Apac district – there is bad news!
TND News has exclusively learnt that government will never pay a single coin as compensation package or “thank you – go find another place and settle” to any locals, many of whom have lived there for nearly two decades.
It’s not that this government has no money, but because, according to Bob Okae, the Apac district LC5 chairperson, compensating the now desperate community may claim lives.
Speaking to this contemporary online newspaper recently, Mr. Okae, says the land in question – now leased to Hillside Agriculture Company Ltd, for Palm Oil Production, is a government land.
The district chairman, who subscribes to UPC party, denied allegation that he got huge monies as bribe from the investor to defend district’s move to offer the land for wrong purpose.
“Government will not compensate anybody. Maruzi Ranch was given to government for free by at least three clans,” he said.
“Compensating them would mean more deaths, and killings since many of them are not true natives of this place,” Okae added.
Asked if the issue of Maruzi Ranch, and allegation that he got bribes with his district councilors when investor took them to Kalangala district, he said: “I don’t get my votes from Maruzi, even if they were voters.”
From Apac to Kalangala, Okae said they had requested inventor to take them, facilitate them as they tour and investigate how palm tree can be productive to the district.
“I think the issue is turning political. We were paid per diem and it wasn’t bribe – it was our request to be taken to Kalangala,” he added.
One of the victims, now homeless, Onume Saudi, in an interview with this online newspaper says government must tell them if there is any package for them.
“As I talk now, army is heavily deployed and tilting of the land is ongoing. Initially, we were told government would pay each of us Uganda shillings 400,000 only,” Mr. Onume said.
According to him, there is heavily and daily deployment of soldiers in Corner Molem and Acamcato respectively, and land is tilted and demolition continues.
Maruzi Ranch which is 64 Square Miles (42,149 acres) was leased to Uganda Livestock Industries Limited by Uganda Land Commission on 29, April, 1969 and its use was restricted to ranching and beef production.
Back then, it was customary land owned by at least two tribes; the Ongoda, the Oyima and others.
However, the 13,987.860 hectares (part of the ranch) was fraudulently [some activists termed it] given to Hillside Agriculture Limited of P.O. Box 215 Jinja, a company owned by a one Rajeev Singh Rai from Kenya.
This transaction (lease) for 50 years, according to investigations done by this contemporary online newspaper, and whistleblowers’ accounts, was sealed on the 7, September, 2018 at a fee of Uganda shillings 9.3 million only.