By Solomon Hamala
At least 450 Karimojong families are stranded after a piece of land they had been occupying in Bugumba Zone, Iganga Municipality for the past twenty years was taken over by an investor.
The three acre piece of land was reportedly given to one Alphonse Lokwi to take care of in 2001 who later invited fellow tribesmen to occupy it as squatters.
However the owner of the land, one Justine Kagoda reportedly came back and informed the affected families that he had sold the land to an investor to set up a juice factory.
One of the affected people, John Nyeko said they were shocked to be informed that they should vacate the land within a period of two days.
“The owner has even already started putting up a perimeter fence forcing us to now relocate to nearby churches and schools for shelter,” he said.
Nyeko said he was born in the area knowing it belonged to his parents but now is stranded and has nowhere to go.
“All along we knew this is our land but now we are being told to go away,” he said.
Betty Alilimu, another squatter urged government to intervene by securing alternative land to the affected families or else relocate them to their respective districts of origin.
“Am ready to go back to my home area of Kotido in case there are means of transport other than suffering here with my five children,” she said.
The LC 3 chairman Northern division, Muhamad Kataba said the affected families were being given food rations like maize flour that was not sufficient since the number is big.
Kataba urged well-wishers to offer support like food, medicine, clothes to the affected people as authorities seek a solution to the problem.
“We are contacting their leaders in Kampala to establish whether they are in position to help transport the affected people back to their respective districts of origin,” he said.
He cautioned politicians against inciting the affected people to protest saying they had lived on the land as squatters but were not being evicted as alleged by a section of people who want to fulfill their selfish interests.
“One of the Karamojong people was given that land some time to take care of but later kept on inviting his fellow tribesmen and the number kept on accumulating,” he said.
The Woman Member of Parliament Iganga, Sauda Alibawo said they were trying to contact the relevant local council officials to establish the exact number of people affected besides their districts of origin for necessary action.
“I am aware if we have this data in place then it will be easier to take the next step,” she said.