Apac district council returns Maruzi ranch takeover debate

One of the huts of a Maruzi ranch squatter destroyed by security agencies last year. File photo.

Civil Application No.22 of 2020 was fil

“With or without facilitation, we will convene the Council next month to iron out the above burning issues,” Apac district Council Speaker says.

By Okwir Daniel Justine

Apac—12 October 2020: Among other matters brought back for discussion, the district council of Apac held on Thursday 8th October 2020 made a number of resolutions.

The heated district council chaired by speaker Obong Peter Acuda told TND News reporter on phone Monday morning that the council came out with the following resolutions.

“The people of Apac want to know why Hill Side Agriculture Investments have started their work in Maruzi Ranch, yet they have not fulfilled what they had agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding with us the Council.”

According to the Council speaker, the above company among other things had accepted to build a modern Council Hall.

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, 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, and no condition for which it was leased, more than 4,000 locals found refuge there.

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

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

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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’ on 7 September 2018, even when Apac District Land Board had caveated it.

Read more here: Scent of more bribes as Agric Committee’s report on Maruzi Ranch delays

Mr Obong also told TND News that on Thursday the Council resolved that the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) should buy a boat for the people who visit Aganga Health Center II and Apoi Health Center II all located in Ibuje sub-county after roads leading there have been submerged by water.

Another resolution was that the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) be summoned to explain and account to the district task-force on COVID-19. Since inception of the task-force in March, the speaker claims the RDC never met the team.

“We have also asked the CAO to write a letter requesting for permission from the Health Ministry, Disaster and Relief Minister, Local government Ministry, Finance Ministry to get finance and move Aganga Health Center II and Apoi Health Center II to another area due to frequent floods.

He said the next council will be in the first week of November this year, with or without facilitation to iron out the above burning issues.

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