300 Families Living in Fear of Eviction

Comments 2201 Views Soroti, Uganda
First Map of 1952 Salume Among

First Map of 1952 Login to license this image from 1$.

In short
Ewotu explains that their grandparents donated 965 acres of land to Teso College Aloet as indicated on the 1952 map.

More than 300 families in Arapai Sub County in Soroti district are living in fear of eviction from their land to pave way for the establishment of Soroti University.  The affected families occupy 110 acres of the 220 hectares of land earmarked to host Soroti University.
In October, the Commissioner of Lands approved a map for the university land, which includes the land occupied by the 300 families. 70-year-old Geresom Ewotu, one of the affected residents faults the new Map. Ewotu explains that their grandparents donated 965 acres of land to Teso College Aloet as indicated on the 1952 map.

// Cue in: “This map …”
Cue out: “…last month.”//
Ewotu notes that the 965 acres of land were sub-divided and given to pave way for the establishment of Teso School of Higher Education by, which was later named Teso University and finally Soroti University. He explains that the 110 acres of land they occupy does is not part of the university land.
// Cue in: “After mapping …”
Cue out: “…graves.”//
He says that during a meeting between the clan leaders, district surveyor and the university officials led by the secretary Ruth Etibot, they appointed a team to travel to Entebbe and bring the map for the land in question. Ewotu says the representatives of the residents including him, Augustine Erimu, a clan leader, Patrick Malinga and Mark Aisu returned with the 1952 map while the University secretary came back with the 1998 map, which was only approved in October 2013.
82-year-old Augustine Erimu, a former councilor in the then Teso district his father and grandparents were buried on the contested land. The father of 23 children says that he was part of the team, which parceled the land earmarked for the university, which does not include the land they occupy.
// Cue in: “The Teso …”
Cue out: “…family of mine.”//
50-year-old Twaha Abdullah says that his father has occupied the contested land since 1929 when he was born. He explains that the disputed land is home to various people from various ethnic groups such as Nubians, Lous and indigenous Teso community. Prof. Robert Ikoja Odongo, the head of the Soroti University steering committee says the 220 hectares of land were earmarked for the establishment of a higher institution of learning by Teso district council long ago.

He however, declined to comment on the 110 acres of land, which the residents claim belongs to them and instead referred URN to Michael Egunyu, the Soroti District LC V chairperson. Egunyu is away in Korea on official duties. Michael Akol Okole, the Arapai LC 3 chairperson says that in a recent meeting both parties agreed to seek clarification from the commissioner on the 1952 and 2013 maps.

An official on Soroti District land board who declined to be named said it is only the commissioner who can resolve the land dispute between the residents and University.


About the author

Salume Among
Salume Among is the Mbale URN bureau chief. Among has been a URN staff member since 2012.

Among started her career in 2000 as a freelance writer for Etop newspaper before starting to write for its mother paper, The New Vision. She also wrote for the Vision Group's XFM radio station from 2008 until she left to join URN.

Among has a keen interest in local politics having been a youth representative in the Soroti variously between 1996 and 2010. Among also regularly reports on health, education, the environment and sports.