Kyambogo University in heated land row with squatters
Part of UPK Parish zone K5. Photo by Ronard Shabomwe.

Kyambogo University is currently faced with a heated land row with a group of people claiming to be bona fide occupants on the land that the university inherited from Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo (UPK).

The land in question comprises FRV 461 Folio 13 Plot M902 measuring approximately 137.51 hectares. It is situated along Kabaka’s road covering four zones of K2, K3, K5, and K6 in the parish named after the defunct Polytechnic (Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo parish) in Nakawa division.

Part of the land hosts university staff quarters but overtime there have been different groups of people occupying it and set up temporary and semi-permanent structures for accommodation. Others use the land for several income-generating projects including piggery, farming, and pottery.

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Of late, some squatters wanted to erect permanent structures attracting protracted legal battles with the university management. And in the latest developments, the university has subsequently issued them with eviction notices.

“Notice is given to all persons cultivating on university land to vacate any part of the university land that is illegally cultivated,” the eviction notice signed by the University Secretary dated October 14 reads in part giving them an ultimatum of two weeks.

In one of the letters written to President seeking his intervention into the matter, the university highlights that the squatters have affected the implementation of university projects aimed at generating income internally without over-dependence on government subventions.

However, it seems the squatters who describe the contested land as ‘government land’ are not ready to vacate any soon claiming that they are lawful bibanja holders who have and have lived on the land since 1962 and therefore can’t vacate before they are duly compensated.

Fahad Mugume, one of the affected residents, says they were surprised when the university dragged them to court arguing that they have spent only eight months on the land in question which according to him is not right.

Allen Namusoke, charcoal stove potter, also back Mugume saying that although the land might not be theirs, they have occupied it for long, and therefore chasing them away on short notice is unfair.

Isaac Galiwango, a resident running a piggery project on the land, says that the university management is fond of using security personnel to intimidate them, and many times some of their colleagues have been arrested and spent days in cells.

Now, the squatters, who claim to be over 4,000, have petitioned the Prime Minister and state minister for lands Chris Baroyomunsi to intervene in the matter. They argue that if the university or government wishes to use the said piece of land then the government should offer them alternative land somewhere else.

“We request for adequate time in case of any legally arranged re-settlement,” reads part of their letter to the prime minister. They have also asked for security from Kyambogo management which they refer to as ‘land grabbers’.

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