By Jens Mukiibi
Kamaliba Fishing Village in Muge Parish, Nkozi Sub-county in Mpigi District has been home to at least 300 fishermen for the last four decades. However, all these people are stranded after their homes were razed down and asked to leave with immediate effect.
On March 18, a combined team of court bailiffs and police descended on the landing site and evicted the residents, following a High Court order secured by city Pastor Samuel Kakande of the Synagogue Church of All Nations. The victims have now petitioned Parliament protesting the court order issued in favour of Pastor Kakande through his company, Aqua World Limited.
The residents also seek compensation from the company for allegedly destroying their property to expand sand mining activities and fish farming into Lwera, a spacious wetland on Kampala-Masaka highway.
“Since time immemorial, there has existed a fishing village at Kamaliba occupied by people carrying on a number of activities including fishing and farming. They have been living in harmony until 2014 when Aqua World (Uganda) Limited, a company owned by Pastor Kakande was issued with a permit by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA ) to carry out sand mining and fish farming in the area,” the May 23 petition reads in part.
The piece of land that was allocated to Pastor Kakande’s company measures 45 acres and is near Kamin Mpigi District. In 2016, NEMA also issued a permit to residents of Kamaliba allowing them to carry out livestock farming on a maximum area of 2.47acres of land.
Using the permit, residents have established a number of projects funded by the World Bank under the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project – Phase II (LVEMPII).
The residents have petitioned their area MP John Bosco Lubyayi Sseguya (Mawokota South County) calling for Parliament’s intervention. Mr Lubyayi claims that Pastor Kakande encroached on the wetland and extended his activities on the nearby village and that with the help of police, he fenced off the land and destroyed homesteads, businesses and plantations belonging without any compensation.
“We need the speaker [of Parliament] to bar his (Pastor Kakande) company from evicting residents until Justice Bamugemereire’s Land Commission finishes its work of probing the land titles in Lwera Wetland,” Lubyayi says.
He adds that since the issuance of the title to Pastor Kakande’s company, the residents have been threatened with several eviction orders; property destroyed and denied access to justice through the connivance of the police.
Joseph Musana, the Katonga regional police spokesperson, denies the allegations and urges the MP and victims to stop tarnishing police’s image. He says after the eviction, police withdrew from the disputed land and Pastor Kakande hired a private security company which is in charge of guarding the place.
However, the Nema senior public relations officer, Tony Achidria, says all sand mining activities were halted in the area until the new guidelines are issued.
But George Kawuma, a resident says: “We request that Parliament investigates why Pastor Kakande and Aqua World (Uganda) Limited have continued to carry out sand mining activities and fish farming at Kamaliba fishing village despite interventions by different authorities to stop them.”
Land office to blame
The Mpigi District chairperson, Mr Peter Mutuluza, says available information shows that the district lands office sold land to Pastor Kakande and was given eight freehold land titles in 2013.
“As Mpigi District, we have started investigations to establish who exactly engaged him/herself in issuing the freehold titles on land occupied by people. This was illegal because the land included a wetland and we shall cancel those titles,” he says.
By Mathias Kintu Musoke, the coordinator of Pastor Kakande’s projects in Masaka Sub-region says the residents were fully compensated before being evicted.
“They [evictees] were compensated but after receiving the cash, some local leaders advised them to go back claiming it was sold without following the law. If they have chosen to petition Parliament, I think they will have to refund the money that we gave them. We were also permitted by Nema to occupy other 200meters, but we discovered that residents had already encroached on the area,” he says.