In Nakasongola District, a contentious issue has arisen concerning the resettlement of displaced households within the Kyalubanga Forest Reserve. The situation has escalated to the point where the safety of these residents is in jeopardy due to attacks by fellow residents. The dispute centers around a directive issued by the State Minister for Lands, Mr. Sam Mayanja, which called for the disbandment of the committee responsible for distributing Kyalubanga Forest land to over 2,000 displaced households.
Local leaders from the four affected sub-counties and the district executive have voiced their concerns, alleging that Minister Mayanja’s directive was issued in bad faith. They contend that this directive has led to a deteriorating security situation in the resettled areas, causing chaos and violence among the affected residents.
Mr. Livingstone Mwesigye, the Wabinyonyi Sub-county chairperson, emphasized the urgency of addressing the security situation. He highlighted that the displaced households had endured homelessness for over a year due to floods and argued that any directive related to their resettlement should have been made in consultation with district leaders and the affected families. He expressed disappointment in the minister’s lack of consideration for the repercussions of his directive.
According to Mr. Sam Kigula, the Nakasongola District chairperson, the minister’s approach undermines the previous efforts made by district leaders to resettle the displaced persons. He stressed the importance of consulting with the district leadership before disbanding a committee established by the district council executive, which included representatives from various interests.
Kigula also noted that a probe committee had been established to investigate ongoing resettlement issues, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive and thoughtful approach. He referred to President Museveni’s consideration of the Kyalubanga Forest Reserve’s degazetting process, which aimed to benefit not only the 409 households occupying part of the land but also the broader population of landless people in Nakasongola.
The 2021 Lake Kyoga floods displaced 306 households from Lwampanga Town Council, with only 36 households resettled at the Kyalubanga Forest Reserve land thus far. Ms. Jamilah Nakiyimba, the Lwampanga Town Council vice chairperson, expressed concern for the safety of the residents who had been resettled and urged leaders to act in the best interests of Nakasongola’s people.
Minister Mayanja, in a previous interview, defended his directive, asserting that it was prompted by the failure of district leaders to follow the presidential directive regarding the resettlement at Kyalubanga Forest Reserve. He accused the committee responsible for land allocation of serving selfish interests and oppressing rightful beneficiary tenants, leading to his decision to disband it.
In response to the rising tension and insecurity, the Nakasongola District Security Committee established a new police post at Kyalubanga Forest Reserve land. This was done to address the conflicts and violence among rival tenants vying for land within the forest reserve.