FEAR! Rukungiri’s Ruhinda residents risk starving after being forced off ancestral land to restore wetlands, asks President Museveni to intervene

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NEWS-Residents in the Ruhinda Sub County Rukungiri district’s Parishes of Kicwamba, Burombe, Ndere and Rwamugoma, together with several local leaders, have vowed to demonstrate and file a lawsuit against the Rukungiri local government for forcing them off their mother land in order to restore wetlands.

Ruhinda Sub County’s wetlands were invaded last week by the Rukungiri’s environmental law enforcement agents backed up by Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and police officers.

The officials started implementing an order to expel encroachers from the so-called degraded wetland, armed with guns, hoes, sticks, and machetes (pangas).

Residents claim that buildings and many acres of crops, including banana plantations, sugarcane, beans, maize, and yams, were destroyed by environmental law enforcement.

The impacted locals accuse Ruhinda Sub County Chairperson Mrs. Hellen Kabajungu of directing district authorities to unlawfully put mark stones on their land and destroy crops, as well as GISO Mr. Bindeeba Moses.

Local authorities’ inconsistent actions, according to the residents, create suspicions about possible collusion to seize their land.

Some of the affected people and residents of Kabale village in Rwamugoma Parish, Ruhinda Sub County, spoke with our reporter about the matter and they include Fred Kyandoho, Caleb Vicent, and Barireryo Lucira.

They revealed that their crops were destroyed and they were forced to leave their land, despite the fact that this is where they have been providing for their families and paying for their children’s school fees.

These locals now want President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to step in because they are likely to starve to death from a shortage of food.

Cue in………..RESIDENTS VOX POPS ONE……….

Threatening to sue Rukungiri authorities over the unlawful evictions, Enid Kyabishiki, Adrine Gariyo, Befaho Godwin, and Bitrice Kahondo, among other victims, said that they had been living on their contested land for more than fifty years and that it was where they were born from.

“We have been on this land for quite a long time. What is surprising is how Rukungiri government officials evicted us.” said residents.

Kyabishiki claims that because the community was never informed about the project’s purpose, there was no openness during the whole property surveying process.

An elder from Kabale village named Turyabarema Daniel told our reporter that he had been farming on land he inherited from his parents since he was a little boy.

However, he expressed confusion at how the Rukungiri authorities had forced him off the same plot of land.

Turyabarema continued, saying that tensions in the community have grown as a result of the locals’ fear of becoming victims of land grabs and the government’ lack of communication with them.

He now expressed concern that his primary source of income has been stopped since the authorities seized his farm.

Cue in……….RESIDENTS VOX POPS TWO……..

Ahimbisibwe Wilberforce Ongom, the Rukungiri Deputy Resident District Commissioner (DRDC), said in the meanwhile that they are carrying out the presidential instruction to restore wetlands that have been invaded by humans.

According to Ongom, they informed people about the risks of wetlands encroachment and carried out sufficient sensitization to be instructed to leave, but in vain, which compelled them to act as district leaders.

Cue in………DRDC ONGOM………

Last month, President Museveni fired warning shots at Sub-County Chiefs and Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) for failing to implement the President’s directives to evict wetland encroachers.

He said that those who have encroached in the wetlands should leave unconditionally because they were aware of the repurcations prior. 

He claimed that the encroachers of wetlands in Busoga Bukedi and Kigezi were misled by the previous governments, for instance, the Kibimba Rice scheme.

The President directed RDCs and chiefs to ensure the people vacate wetlands while cautioning those who do not implement his directive risk arrest.

However, President Museveni exempted the factories that have already been built by the investors countrywide but issued an ultimatum to new factories to not tamper in building in the wetlands.