By Candia Stephen
Arua-President Yoweri Museveni has warned land speculators against engaging in dubious propaganda to defraud and sabotage government projects.
Museveni issued the forewarning while appearing on a radio talk show to rally the people of West Nile to support the proposed land amendment bill 2017, which seeks to allow government take over land of any individual for public works before full compensation.
“There are greedy people who want to rob government by over pricing their land. And there are people who are also arrogant, not able to offer their land. And some of these greedy people are in the government and they know all the government programs. These are the people we shall deal with,” he said.
He said added: “They are aware of government plans to establish investments and so they rush to cheaply purchase land where public works are due and exaggerate compensation for them. This is abuse of office where you use your office for greed.”
Since the plan to amend the law came into play, the opposition members of Parliament have been mobilizing people to reject the plans saying, government intends to grab their land and make them poorer.
An Act to amend Article 26 of the constitution in accordance with the articles 259 and 261 is to enable government or a local government to deposit with court, compensation awarded by government for property declared for compulsory acquisition, to empower government or local government to take possession of the property upon depositing the compensation amount…
Article 26 (4) says that the owner of the property or person having any interest in or right over the property shall have a right to access the compensation deposited with their court referred in clause (3), at any time during the determination of the dispute.
Several people have in the past raised complaints of the low compensation rates on land that has always generated more conflicts between government and the land owners.
Museveni also assured the people of government plans to upgrade road works from Koboko to Moyo via Yumbe, Arua to Yumbe via Terego and Pakwach to Obongi via Rhino Camp and the railway line linking from Tororo to Pakwach then to Nimule and Juba in South Sudan.
A grader working on a road in Arua.
The president however assured the people of West Nile and Uganda of fair and transparent compensation in an event where their land is affected by public works adding that: “Many people who received compensation from road and other works are happier with what they have received from government.”
Meanwhile the president said the people of Terego would have it granted a district status in 2019 after they ‘successfully sorted out opposition member like Kassiano Wadri whom he said has been a problem for the NRM and government.
He called on the people to make use of the good infrastructure in the region to add wealth to their homesteads by moving from subsistence farming to planned commercial agriculture.
Several state ministers and NRM legislators in support of the constitutional amendments 2017 accompanied the President but those opposed to did not show up.