The first phase of the resettlement process for the disaster affected residents of Bududa is finally set to kick off with the release of Shs10billion for the resettlement of the first batch of 900 families to Bulambuli.
The commissioner for disaster preparedness Martin Owor, said government through the engineering brigade of the UPDF will build low cost housing units for the locals in an exercise expected to kick off next week.
“W are beginning the construction in two weeks’ time with the UPDF engineering brigade. Within three months we shall have the first phase of 300 houses ready and move the first lot of people,” Owor said.
“We already have the first Shs10b which has been released and the balance of the Shs22b for this first phase is available. There is no challenge now, 2000 UPDF builders are moving on with the ground work,” he added.
However, area legislator John Baptist Nambeshe continues to dissuade officials and residents against the exercise, claiming the relocation is not safe as it will not better lives of affected people.
“Places like Bulambuli which we have now known that have encumbrances, absentee landlords, people are hostile and the animosity is building by the day, it is not safe yet OPM is hell bent,” Nambeshe said.
A few days ago, a section of locals stripped naked protesting the way in which government was conducting process and insisting the land was theirs but bought without consent.
Nambeshe now claims that the essence of bringing in UPDF is to scare away the rightful owners of the land.
“But will UPDf remain their to avail maximum protection to the IDPs who will be relocated from Bududa? Don’t you think this will be recipe for disaster? Don’t you think people are being shifted from the frying pan into the fire itself?” Nambeshe added.
However, Owor claims that people who demonstrated in Bulambuli are just mere opportunists trying to position themselves for self aggrandisement.
“Whenever government is investing somewhere, people rush there and try to position themselves to benefit. In this case they didn’t know where government land is, they rushed and started building on the Bugisu Cooperative Union land, when they saw us elsewhere, they were shocked,” Owor said.
A section of Members of Parliament in Bugisu Sub-region led by Nambeshe want landslide victims in Bududa District to be relocated and resettled only in the approved locations within the district.
These say the relocation move would cause more deaths in future since the area which sits on over 2000 acres of land is swampy and prone to flooding.
“The landslide victims should not be relocated to Bulambuli because it would similar to lifting them from a frying pan to fire. It would be wrong to relocate people from one disaster hotspot to another,” Nambeshe said.
In April this year, according to a report from Relief Web, over 2000 residents displaced by landslides in the different villages of Bududa Sub County in Bududa District started seeking refuge in the nearby schools, churches and trading centres.
This followed multiple landslides after a heavy down pour which left several villages affected including Shamwanza, Shiaza, Buhasiru East, Bukhasiru West, Buwaninda, Makalama, Sholelo, Nafunane, Bunateme and Bukhalobo. Several acres of gardens, livestock, and houses were destroyed, though, there were no reports of deaths or injuries.
Previous relocation efforts?
Following landslides that claimed over 600 people in 2010, a cabinet subcommittee headed by the first deputy premier, Gen Moses Ali, was appointed to find a lasting solution.
One of the resolutions of this committee was to relocate the vulnerable people to safer places. Land for relocation and resettlement was identified in Bulambuli in the east and in the district of Kiryandongo.
However, the relocation never happened as government failed to find conflict free land. Meanwhile a smaller group that was relocated to Kiryandongo found resistance from residents there as well as hard life, as the land was infertile yet they were purely farmers.
Kayunga district has also come up as proposed resettlement area, but politicians have argued it is far away from relatives of victims.
Cabinet approved Shs32 billion to be used in the relocation.