UPDF 4th Division, Residents in Land Dispute

2393 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
In Ogwal Woo Village, Gulu Army Secondary School and the military playground, residents accuse the army of encroaching and annexing several parts of their land. At the 17th tactical Air Defense regiment, the army wants to occupy the area currently being occupied by 27 residents.

The UPDF 4th division headquarters in Gulu district is embroiled in a fresh land dispute with residents.
 
In Ogwal Woo Village, Gulu Army Secondary School and the military playground, residents accuse the army of encroaching and annexing several parts of their land. At the 17th tactical Air Defense regiment, the army wants to occupy the area currently being occupied by 27 residents.
 
The army is currently opening the boundary of the military barrack and residents of Ogwal Woo village are angry that the army has encroached onto their homesteads and gardens by an estimated 50 meters along Ogwal Woo Wetland.
 
//Cue in: "Do we agree…

Cue out: "…Wac lok ada"//
 
The UPDF Engineering department started opening the boundary last Thursday by bush clearing and uprooting concrete remains of old fencing poles. They also dug new holes in which they plan to erect perimeter wire fencing.
 
Bar Dege Division Chairperson, Patrick Oola Lumumba, says that it was bad for the army to open up the boundary without local leaders and communities. He notes that it is not the first time the military and the community are engaged in the dispute.
 
According to Oola, the army initially blocked the opening of the road separating communities with the barracks until he engaged Maj Gen. Charles Otema Away, the Commander of the UPDF Reserve Forces and the army leadership.
 
On Wednesday, Brigadier Emmanuel Kanyesigye, the 4th division commander, led a team of military officers and district officials to the area. He apologized to the residents for opening up the boundary without the community's involvement.
 
//Cue in: "I want to apologize…
Cue out: "…open the boundary"//
 
Brigadier Kanyesigye said that affected residents will be compensated by the Ministry of Defence.

George Labeja, Gulu Municipal Mayor asked the army to consider the municipal physical planning of the area when opening up the boundary.  He said some homes have been built in the area in accordance to the Municipal Plan.

Major Santos Okot Lapolo, the Gulu RDC urged residents to remain calm as district surveyor works with the military engineers to open the boundaries.

According to residents, the boundary of the military installation was altered several times during the reign of President Idi Amin in the 1970s and later during the reign of Dr. Milton Obote.
 

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.