More than 300 families who were evicted by Hoima Sugar Ltd in 2014 to pave way for sugarcane growing are living a miserable life.
The evictees are currently squatting at Kijayo internally displaced camp in Kiziranfumbi sub-county in Kikuube district.
The residents were evicted from a piece of land measuring 1,557 hectares after the late Prince Hebert Kimera Rwakiswaza who claimed to be the rightful owner of the land leased it to Hoima Sugar Ltd to set up a sugar plantation and factory.
The affected residents are from the villages of Muzirandura, Kyabataka A & B, Kyakasoro and Nyawante in Kiziranfumbi sub-county. Hoima Sugar has planted sugarcane in all these villages, were the residents initially settled.
On July 2, 2014, the then Masindi high court Judge, Justice Simon Byabakama, issued an interim court order, stopping Rwakiswaza and his agents from evicting people, demolishing their houses and destruction of gardens until the court decides the rightful owner of the said land but this order was violated and the residents were brutally evicted from their ancestral land.
After the eviction, the 300 families who were part of the more than 50,000 residents who claimed rightful ownership of the land set up camp on church land in Kijayo village where they have lived since 2014.
Currently, the evictees including women, men and their children are living in congested makeshift huts without social amenities such as schools, health facilities, water and food.
Ester Turyahebwa, 42, a mother of 8 children says women’s rights in the camp have been violated adding that women have been abandoned with children by their husbands due to the harsh living condition.
She says they have no land to grow food for their children adding that they survive on food being donated to them by the community.
Muhereza Tumukunde, 59, a mother of 7 children says her husband abandoned her adding that their children are not at school since there are no public schools in the area. She has also decried the high rate of defilement of girls and rape of women in the camp.
Edward Tumusime, the chairperson LC I Muziranduru Kijayo says that there is an increase in child neglect and domestic violence cases in the area resulting from the situation in the camp. He adds that there are high cases of defilement and rape being committed by workers of the Hoima sugar Limited against the mothers in the camp.
He has appealed to the government to intervene by building schools, health facilities and boreholes for the locals to benefit and save the lives of the community in the camp.
Stephen Buryahia, the representative of the evictees, says the locals have suffered enough and blamed the government for abandoning them. He says that they have been surviving on relief aid from civil society organizations.
Dorothy Ajwang, the Kikuube district Chief Administrative Officer-CAO says that she is shocked by the situation the evictees are living in adding that she did not expect Uganda citizens to live in such a situation.
She demands a dialogue between the evictees and Hoima sugar Limited to get a way of helping the evictees to ensure peaceful co-existence and promised that the district would get a way of helping the evictees with social amenities.
Richard Basemera, Deputy Public Relations Officer-PRO Hoima sugar, has promised to put the concerns of the evictees to the company management to find a way forward.