Local leaders from Acholi sub-region have given a green light to government to survey the contentious land in Amuru for sugar production.
This was revealed by the Minister for Lands, Hon Betty Amongi while addressing journalists in Kampala on Wednesday.
Amongi said political, cultural and religious leaders from Acholi met with President Museveni at State House in Entebbe where they agreed that the land be surveyed by government.
“They agreed on the importance of the sugarcane project in stimulating economic development and pledged to support the ongoing exercise,” Amongi told journalists.
The revelation comes against the backdrop of a nude protest in the area spearheaded by local politicians including Members of Parliament, denouncing plans to take over the contested land.
However, Amongi named Acholi chief, Rwot David Onen Achana, Bishop Baker Ochola as the representatives from the cultural and religious leaders who attended the meeting in Entebbe.
Other leaders in the meeting, according to the Lands Minister, were MPs Odonga Otto, Beatrice Anywar, Anthony Akol, Gilbert Oulanya, Lucy Akello and the chairpersons for Kololo and Lakang villages.
Asked about the full details of the meeting including resolutions, Amongi said these would be divulged on Monday in a joint rally to be held in Amuru.
“We agreed that the current security deployment shall remain and all concerns on the land by locals be investigated,” she observed.
However, when pressed to make sense of the heavy deployment despite reported agreement by local leaders, the lands minister said it’s a procedure whenever land surveying happens.
“It is a requirement that when land staff are in the field; we must have security to accompany them,” she argued.
Amongi was again on the receiving end when journalists tasked her to explain the future of the locals who will be relocated when the wealthy Madhvani finally starts growing sugarcane on their land.
The Minister cited an agreement where locals will either be compensated in cash or be relocated, depending on one’s choice.
On why government is at the forefront of taking the disputed piece of land, other than the investor, Amongi said the land in Amuru is public land that Madhvani acquired lease to grow sugar cane.
“The locals (occupants) went to court and agreed that the matter be handled between them (locals) and government,” she said.
The land in question, according to Amongi, is 10,000 hectares comprising Kololo and Lakang villages.
The Lands Minister last week postponed the planned surveying of the land following a nude protest by the locals led by the area Members of Parliament.
Last month, government announced plans to start opening of boundaries of the land to enable Madhvani Group establish a sugarcane plantation and factory in the area.
President Museveni says the sugarcane projects will create employment opportunities for the young people and attract more related investments in the area thus economic prosperity.
He also maintains that politicians who are sabotaging the project are anti-people.