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Residents demand fresh evaluation as UPDF establishes airbase in Masaka

President Museveni meeting UPDF Air Force officers . FILE PHOTO

Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Over 100 residents facing eviction from the proposed site of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) airbase in Masaka are demanding a fresh evaluation of their properties to ensure fair compensation according to current rates.

UPDF is conducting a survey on approximately 3 square miles of land in Kisasa, Kigo, Bukayi A and B, and Bbaale Villages in Bukakata sub-county, Masaka district, for the establishment of a new Air Force regiment base. The chosen land’s strategic location along the shores of Lake Victoria and its proximity to Entebbe Airbase makes it ideal for the UPDF’s plans.

However, the residents currently occupying the land are insisting on a new property evaluation exercise, as the previous rates from 2013 are now outdated and inadequate. Godfrey Bukenya, the Chairperson of Kigo village, explains that they initially accepted the compensation rates, but the value of land in the area has significantly appreciated.

He argues that given the lengthy delay in receiving compensation, it is only fair for the army to conduct a fresh property evaluation to revise the compensation fees. Bukenya suggests compensating every acre of land with at least 20 million shillings, compared to the 5 million shillings allocated in 2013. He also calls for disturbance and relocation allowances for affected individuals.

Residents like Abdul Yiga, Livingstone Ssemujju, and Ramula Nakanwagi, whose houses are slated for demolition for the project, argue that the old compensation figures are insufficient for them to reestablish themselves. Nakanwagi indicates that while they are not completely opposed to the government project, they may be forced not to vacate their land should their demand for reevaluation not be considered.

She narrates that the project requires her to relinquish her 5.4 acres of land, which has been sustaining her family for decades, but the 47.3 million Shillings that was allocated to her in 2017, can hardly enable her to resettle the family.

Captain Ibrahim Ssekito, the Spokesperson of UPDF Armoured Brigade Kasijjagirwa in Masaka, called on the affected residents to collaborate with the army and present their concerns for possible consideration. However, he warns them against being influenced by selfish politicians who may have ulterior motives in obstructing the project through exaggerated demands.