The Minister of Lands Betty Amongi yesterday defied the will of the people of Amuru and much of Acholi region when she launched the survey exercise for the 10, 000 hectares of disputed land in Amuru.
The launching of the survey exercise took place amid heavy police deployment. It was perhaps a hint to the power Minister Amongi had talked about recently.
Amongi was quoted as having said: “Anyone thinking of stopping the survey of this land or anyone thinking of stopping the acquisition of this land is dreaming. I have come with all the power from government to ensure that this land is surveyed.”
This time, Housing and Urban development Betty Amongi traveled at about 5:00pm to meet the land owners who had consented to have their land surveyed.
The launch came after days of trying to marshal for support from prominent Acholi leaders including cultural and religious leaders following last Friday’s protests in Kololo where women undressed in protest over the government’s intension to allocate 10,000 hectares of fertile land to sugar investor Madvani.
The protesters were joined by seven Members of Parliament from Acholi sub-region. They rejected the government’s plan to allocate over the planned give-away and demanded to hear from the president himself.
Although the minister said her minister had reached agreement with 101 land owners to have their land surveyed, less than half of the people turned up for the survey exercise.
Over 15,000 people who claim ownership over the land have refused to give way to the project which the government says will increase sugar production by Madvani.
The company allegedly wants to expand to Northern Uganda by establishing a a massive plantation in Kololo and Lakang in Amuru district apparently because of the vast underutilized fertile land there.
Opposition towards the project appeared to have threatened some residents from coming out to support the government project.
But Amongi offered support and protection to hesitant locals.
She told journalists: “I want to assure the communities that have consented to their land being surveyed that government shall protect you. Entertainment before cameras is not my method of work and not the method of work of government.”
This time she never allowed darkness to cover her day before reaching Kololo where she launched the survey.
“The survey exercise will begin today.” She told journalists while in Kololo parish.
The survey that was launched at about 5:30pm had a team of surveyors without the presence of district leaders to witness the exercise.
Local leaders and area Members of Parliament including Gilbert Olanya and Anthony Akol for Kilak North and South Constituencies in Amuru district were blocked on their way to Kololo.
There was tight security with a few journalists allowed to cover the exercise. The Minister at first refused media presence on the ground but later retracted her decision and allowed a few journalists majorly from main stream media.