Tension is rising in Apaa, Amuru, after residents blocked the road with tree branches and stones following government’s decision to provide land to investors.
Police and armed forces were deployed in the area to allow investors take over a large piece of land, a move government says is critical for the creation of employment opportunities for the region.
“Now we have over 15,000 people on the street within Apaa trading center ready to protect their land under all cost. After serious beating, people decided to block the road. More UPDF and Police reinforcement joined Apaa yesterday night,” said Gilbert Olanya, a resident of Apaa.
He said earlier this week the area RDC led a team of other investors to Apaa and that “when they came, immediately Internal Affairs Minister Gen Aronda Nyakairima and Gen Moses Ali ordered for deployment.”
Both senior government officials were not readily available for comment on Easter Sunday.
In January 2015, an agreement was signed between the Government of Uganda and the Lamogi community in Amuru district to withdraw the pending case in the court of appeal and pave the way for the establishment of a new sugar factory in Lamogi sub-county by the Madhvani Group of Companies.
The signing ceremony that was witnessed by President Museveni took place on January 12 at the President’s country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhuura district.
The Attorney General, Mr Peter Nyombi represented the government while Mr. Jackson Obalim and over sixty other members of the Lamogi community, signed on behalf of their people.
The Government and the Lamogi community of Lamogi sub-county in Kilak county, Amuru district have been engaged in a court battle after the government of Uganda allocated some piece of land in the area to the Madhvani Group to establish a sugar factory.
The people of Lamogi petitioned High Court in Gulu to stop government from allocating the land for the factory, but the Court ruled in favour of the former, compelling them to appeal in the Court of Appeal where the case was pending.
However, after years of engagement and negotiation between the government and the Lamogi community, the community agreed to withdraw the court case and pave way for the construction of the multi-million sugar factory in Amuru district in Northern Uganda.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, President Museveni regretted that because of the disagreements and court battle a lot of time had been lost and the sugar factory project could have been in its final stages by now.
He, however, congratulated the Lamogi community for finally agreeing to embrace the government call to support industrialization which, he said, was the only way forward to develop Uganda.
He said that it was uncalled for to block any well intentioned production factory from Uganda in the name of protecting land because land is a factor of production which should be utilized to generate income for the betterment of humanity.
Museveni noted that Uganda cannot be part of the modern world if it does not industrialize.
“What is the use of clan land if you can’t use it to generate income for the good of the clan members? Land is for production not for settlement and mere prestige. Our clans have had land over centuries amidst poverty and this can’t go on like this”, he emphasized.
“Our clans, culture and heritage are good and need to be protected but we should bear in mind the demands of the changing world that is modern and developing so that we are not left behind. Our ancestors were left behind in the industrial revolution and this resulted in them being colonized and being subjected to slavery,” he added.
Regarding the disputed boundaries between Amuru district and Adjumani district, President Museveni said the government surveyors will only come to solve the dispute by opening the old boundaries of the West Nile district and Acholi district that were drawn and left behind by the colonial government.
He, however, said that since every Ugandan was free to stay in any district in the country, the boundaries are for administrative purposes.
The Attorney General, Peter Nyombi, said that the signed agreement put into consideration compensation of the affected communities, shareholding in the incoming factory, putting into consideration the Amuru people and sensitization of the community on the importance of the project.
However, Olanya advised that investors should “come to land owners, sit with them and discuss terms and conditions” before taking their land.