Over 100 residents in Masaka facing displacement from their homes due to the planned construction of a Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) airbase are requesting a new assessment of their properties to ensure equitable compensation based on current market rates.
The UPDF is currently conducting a land survey on approximately 3 square miles of land in Kisasa, Kigo, Bukayi A and B, and Bbaale Villages in Bukakata sub-county, Masaka district. The chosen location, situated along the shores of Lake Victoria and near the Entebbe Airbase, aligns with the UPDF’s strategic plans.
However, residents occupying the affected land are advocating for a fresh property assessment, asserting that the compensation rates established in 2013 are outdated and insufficient. Godfrey Bukenya, the Chairperson of Kigo village, conveyed that they initially accepted the compensation rates but emphasize that the land’s value has significantly increased over time.
Bukenya proposes compensation at a rate of at least 20 million shillings per acre, a substantial increase from the 5 million shillings allocated in 2013. He also calls for additional allowances to address the disruptions and relocations faced by affected individuals.
Residents like Abdul Yiga, Livingstone Ssemujju, and Ramula Nakanwagi, whose homes are slated for demolition as part of the project, argue that the previous compensation figures do not provide adequate resources for them to rebuild their lives. Nakanwagi mentions that while they do not oppose the government project entirely, they may be compelled to stay on their land if their request for a reevaluation is not taken into consideration.
She further explains that the project requires her to give up her 5.4 acres of land, which has supported her family for decades. However, the 47.3 million shillings allocated in 2017 is insufficient for her family’s resettlement.
Captain Ibrahim Ssekito, the Spokesperson of UPDF Armoured Brigade Kasijjagirwa in Masaka, encourages affected residents to collaborate with the army and present their concerns for potential consideration. He also cautions them against being influenced by politicians with potentially ulterior motives who might obstruct the project through exaggerated demands.