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Parliament Halts Maruzi Ranch Eviction

Parliament has passed a resolution to stop the eviction of squatters at Maruzi Ranching Scheme in Apac district.

The Parliament decision followed a motion moved by Kwania county Member of Parliament, Tonny Ayo for the House to investigate what he termed as illegal giveaway of the land to a private company.

Ayo in his motion supported by Apac woman representative, Betty Engola and MPs from Lango sub-region, said the 64 square miles ranch located in Apac District was leased by government to Uganda Livestock Industries Ltd in 1968 for a period of 99 years.

The purpose of the lease, he said, was for beef production and articles stipulated that the land was not supposed to be sub-divided or given to any new party.

The ranch scheme however collapsed during the insurgency which started in 1985 after the second fall of Obote government.

The establishment of the 1995 Constitution and the subsequent enactment of the Land Act CAP 227 reverted the ownership of the ranch to the government under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industries.

The locals had however already occupied the land resulting to a court battle in 2014.

The change of governments and the internal displacement of people made the ownership of the land  to become a matter of community concern leading to legal contestation vide High Court Civil Suit No. 023 of 2014 between over 8000 residents of Acamkado, Ayeolyec, Aganga, Tar Ogali, Kungu parishes in Akokoro and Ibuje sub counties in Apac District and the government. Court ordered that occupants should remain on the land.

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Ayo told Parliament that some people want to evict occupants from the ranch contrary to the court orders.

“There have been several attempts by unscrupulous elements both within and outside the central and local government to illegally evict local communities in total disregard of existing court orders,” said Ayo.

In 2016, the MP said the lease was illegally converted to Freehold Title in the names of Uganda Livestock Industries Limited Company.

“The Uganda Livestock Industries Limited also allegedly leased out the said land illegally to Hillside Agriculture Limited in September, 2018 for a period of 50 years covering 54 square miles.”

Ayo wanted the house to appoint a select committee to investigate the illegal giveaway of Maruzi Ranching Scheme, the ownership of the land and all transactions carried out in respect of the land and to report to the house within 45 days of this resolution.

The legislator also appealed for the probing of the circumstances under which the Leasehold Title was converted to Freehold.

The House considered the third prayers of stopping the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and concerned parties from evicting people and also halted any further transaction in relation to Maruzi Ranch including the compensation, sub-divisions, sub-letting, evictions, boundary opening and land clearing.

Parliament also ordered the Agriculture committee and Lango Parliamentary Group to visit the land next week and report to the house within two weeks.

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