Kabale | RedPepper Digital – Residents and leaders in Mbale City have expressed concern over the increasing cases of land grabbing and evictions. The leaders say since the district was elevated to city status in 2020, cases of land disputes have been on the rise.
According to the Elgon regional police spokesperson, Mr Rogers Taitika, in a month they get about 20-25 cases of land grabbing up from 10-15 in the previous years.
They attribute this to the increase in prices and demand for land especially in the suburbs and neighbouring sub-counties.
Mr Sam Wambuya, a real estate dealer, said a plot of land of 100 by 100 ft now goes for about UGX100m from UGX50m, three years ago.
“But in the outskirts, it [100 by 100 ft land] goes for about UGX50m to UGX 80m depending on the location,” Mr Wambuya said.
Mr Wambuya said the rate at which people are investing in real estate is growing rapidly.
Mr Steven Masiga, a resident and opinion leader, said: “We have a problem of land grabbing in the city because people want to own land even if it means acquiring it by illegal means.”
On Monday, a retired police officer, Sgt Anthony Anyolitho, and his family were evicted from a piece of land in Nyanza Cell, Namatala Ward in Industrial Division City.
This came after Sgt. Anyolitho, 76, lost a court case over the ownership of the land. The case had been in court for more than 13 years.
According to the residents, the family had been living on the land for decades. Court bailiffs, guarded by police officers, demolished all the houses on the land belonging to the former police officer despite protests from the family and locals.
An eyewitness told this website that the eviction was violent, disruptive and involved a massive display of force.
Ms Grace Apio, Mr Anyolitho’s daughter, said they were surprised when they were asked to vacate their land yet the matter was still in the Supreme Court pending ruling.
“Without serving us with an eviction order, we woke up in the morning and saw people ready to start breaking into our houses,” she said.
Ms Apio said her father, who is now bedridden, acquired the land in 1977 and divided it into five plots before he surveyed it.
“This lady, Mutonyi Rose came as a tenant, and after losing her sister, my dad allowed her to stay but along the way she started claiming ownership of our home,” she said.
In an October 23 letter addressed to the Mbale District police commander by Natala and Co. Advocates, a law firm representing Sgt Anyolitho, police was asked to halt the eviction but they never did.
“We also note with concern that the warrant of eviction was stealthily secured by Rose Mutonyi without any notice to show cause served upon Mr Anyolitho Anthony,” the letter reads in part.
However, Mr Amisi Magona, a court bailiff, said: “We are lawyers of Mutonyi Rose. We are working on orders of the court.’’ He was later arrested by police at the scene.
In the Northern City Division, a 21-hectare piece of land that hosts the former town council headquarters, police station and a health centre, among others, was allegedly sold to private developers.
It is reported that the former Nakaloke Town Council authorities connived with private developers to sell the land in question without following the right procedures.
Mr Ahamada Washaki, the Mbale Resident City Commissioner, said his office is determined to fight land grabbers.
Mr Washaki also condemned the eviction of the retired police officer, describing it as unfortunate and that his office was not aware.
Mr James Kutosi, the Mbale City public relations officer, said despite all that, the city is growing because it is a regional business hub.