Residents of Bukedea district are protesting the giveaway of 10,000 acres of communal piece of land to a private investor.
Over 300 residents of Koliri Sub County in Bukedea district are protesting the allocation of 10,000 acres of communal land to a private investor. Recently, Koliri sub county council allocated the communal land to RHM Foods, a locally registered private company. RHM Foods (U) Limited entered into a joint venture with Kolir Sub-county to carryout commercial rice growing. Under the agreement, the company gave Kolir Sub-county, 20% shares in return for 49-year lease of communal land.
The company is also to construct a road, health center and a school in the Sub-county. However, the residents will not have any of this. They have now petitioned Bukedea district council to cancel the deal on grounds that they were not consulted by the Sub-county local authorities. In a petitioned signed by over 300 residents, the residents also argues that the directors of RHM Company acted as middlemen for a UK based Farland Investments.
They are also bitter that the company intends to bring in 1500 foreigners to work in the farm. Documents seen by URN indicates that Farland Investment a company registered in UK entered into a joint venture with RHM Foods of Uganda to jointly invest in the Bukedea land. Garland Investments is to invest US$2.5m into the project and they will own 40% shares while RHM Foods and Bukedea district will each own 20% shares. The remaining shares will be given to any willing investor.
The company in its advert states that anybody who invests in 10 hectares in the project is free to send a person of his choice to work in Uganda. The directors of RHM Foods however deny that they acted as middlemen.
Hassan Malinga one of the directors of RHM Foods (U) Ltd says they are bonafide investors and not middlemen as portrayed by the residents. He explains that the company has so far spent 150 million shillings into the project for carrying out environment impact assessment and surveying the land.
He explains that RHM Foods had made it clear to the residents that they had got an investor from UK who is willing to invest in a rice scheme project. He warns that the residents will have to refund them US$2.5m if they want the project canceled because the Sub-county authorities committed its self to the project.
Malinga says the project was also sanctioned by the attorney general.
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Tomson Okirinyang the LC3 Chairman for Kolir claims that the residents were consulted before the signing of the agreement. He claims that a group of disgruntled elders are the ones pushing for the cancelation of the project.