Kasese town residents riot following rumors that they are to be evicted from their homes for the expansion of the government-owned Mubuku Settlement Irrigation Scheme.
Police in Kasese Municipality are closely monitoring Kyondo Village Scheme Parish following violent clashes there this morning.
Residents of Kyondo went on strike to protest their eviction from the land. They claim government sent surveyors with armed escort to mark off several acres of land that are said to be part of the Mubuku Irrigation Scheme.
Emmanuel Katuramu, the Kyondo LC1 chairperson, says more than 350 families have lived on the land since 1948 when they were evicted from the Queen Elizabeth National Park. He says that by the time Mubuku Irrigation Scheme was established in 1964, they were fully settled on the land.
According to Katuramu, in 1971 the Uganda Development Corporation handed over its management of Mubuku to the Ministry of Agriculture. He says that the land in Kyondo was never part of the deal and until recently, government has not expressed interest in it.
Today’s demonstration started off peacefully. However when anti-riot police were deployed to break up the crowd, it turned rowdy. The police fired several gunshots in the air and the angry residents retaliated by throwing stones and rocks at them.
The running battle lasted for several minutes until the officer in charge of Kasese Police Station, Medard Asiimwe, called for a ceasefire. In a meeting with the residents, Asiimwe advised them to amicably address their grievances to government.
While it was agreed that this was the preferred course of action, the Kyondo Village residents said they would need assurances that government would listen to them. Several people claimed that the Kasese Resident District Commissioner, James Mwesigye, threatened that if they didn’t leave, government had enough guns to finish them off.
In a phone interview after the meeting, Mwesigye denied this charge. He said government had no intention to forcefully evict the Kyondo residents. He explained that the land was being surveyed in order to extend the services of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme to neighboring areas.
Mubuku Irrigation Scheme was established in Kasese as a settlement project to take water from Sebwe and Mubuku rivers to government farms and community plantations. It is located on 2,000 hectares of land, which are used for gravity irrigation and dairy development. A large section of the scheme is not currently in use.
mubuku irrigation scheme