Police in Ssembabule have relocated the evicted cattle belonging to Karren Kayonga to Bigo Bya Mugenyi historical site amidst protest from residents.
Police in Ssembabule have relocated the evicted cattle belonging to Karren Kayonga to Bigo Bya Mugenyi historical site
amidst protest from residents.
The move is intended to stop residents from injuring the animals that they refused to occupy a controversial four square miles piece of land located at Bigaaga Forest Reserve in Ntuusi sub- County, Ssembabule District.
Kayonga allegedly claims to be the lawful owner of the land that she purchased through her Abeki farm Investment Limited.
Recently Karren Kayonga drove over 100 cattle from Nyabushozi in Kiruhura district to occupy some five villages in Ntuusi Sub County, a move residents furiously blocked.
Residents occupying villages of Bigaaga, Kabeho, Booma,Kabukongoto and Bulongo mobilized themselves and protested the takeover of the forest reserve land and threatened to harm the animals.
George Tumwine, a resident of Kabeho village, blames Kayonga for illegally grabbing the land saying that they cannot allow her animals to graze on that piece of land.
He says during the demarcation, Bigaaga was gazzetted as a forest reserve and they cannot allow anybody to grab it in the guise of investment.
Tumwine, who was one of the people originally evicted from the historical site to pave a way for the construction of a dam, says that many of his colleagues still lack permanent settlement.
He explains that many had encroached on Bigo Bya Mugenyi but the recent eviction left them homeless and therefore they are keen not to allow outsiders to take the land.
Pheobe Mbeera, a councilor representing Ntuusi sub county at Ssembabule district, says that the police’s action of taking the animals to the historical site is a clear indication that they are conniving with the investor to grab the forestry land.
Mbeera says police should have directed the investor to return the animals from where she got them instead of moving them to Bigo Bya Mugenyi.
Samuel Kezaala, the Assistant Commissioner World Life and Cultural Heritage, criticized the relocation. He says that Bigo Bya Mugenyi is supposed to be nominated as a world historical heritage site
but constant encroachment has failed these efforts.
Kezaala explains that nobody is entitled to settle on this historical land and advised police to quickly transfer the animals.
But Robert Walugembe, the Ssembabule District Police Commander, says they decided to relocate the animals to Bigo Bya Mugenyi until the Bigaaga Forest land dispute is settled.
He claims that the animals are under guard by the Tourism Police for fear of residents harming them. Walugembe says it was the only alternative to protect the animals from danger.
In March 2012, over 15,000 people who had encroached on this same piece of land were later evicted on the orders of Police Chief Kale Kayihura.