Bullets, riots as Chinese firm ‘grabs’ Bukedea land


Gunfire rocked Akwari-kwar village in Bukedea district this morning as Police battled residents who were protesting the alleged grabbing of their land by China Civil Engineering and Construction Company.

Government contracted the Chinese firm to tarmac the Namunsi–Sironko–Kapchorwa road and Bulambuli –Nakapiripirit road.

As a result, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company leased 15 acres of land from 83-year-old Erisima Kitongole for four years at 30 Million shillings to set up an operational site.

However, 10 families claim that seven out of the 15 acres of land leased to the firm belong to them.

This morning the affected families backed by several residents attempted to block the opening the proposed operational site camp.

They were received with gunfire from more than 20 Police Officers deployed around the site.

The police officers fired in the air to disperse the protesters forcing them to scamper for dear life.

However, the residents reorganized and came back with stones forcing the officers to fire several teargas canisters to disperse them.

Police also picked up Siraj Wanyana and Irisia Namambo, both claimants of the contested land for masterminding the protests.

The duo was bundled onto a Police pickup truck and led and driven to Bukedea Central Police Station.
The situation remained tense up to around 1:30pm when William Tukei, the Bukedea LC V chairman intervened and calmed down residents.

He ordered the Chinese company to stop the construction and asked the Police to leave the area to pave way for dialogue.

Tukei has scheduled a meeting with the warring parties in his office on Wednesday morning to resolve the conflict.

The protesters accuse the police of acting in the interest of Rogers Kapere, the Bukedea District Police Commander, RDC Imran Mulunga and his Sironko counterpart Mubaraka Magomu.

Residents claim the officials were part of the deal to lease off their land illegally to the Chinese firm,

Rogers Kapere, the Bukedea District Police Commander has rubbished the claims by residents saying they don’t have any document to prove ownership of the contested land.

Kapere explains that he deployed jointly with the RDC to provide security for the company staff who were being threatened by the protesters.

Mubaraka Magomu, the Sironko RDC distances himself from the incident saying the situation was being handled by his counterpart in Bukedea.

He says much as the road work will pass through his district, he has nothing to do with the operation site where there is chaos.

Attempts to get a comment from Imran Muluga, the Bukedea RDC were futile as he neither picked nor returned calls from our reporter.

Mzee Erisima insists he is the rightful owner of the 15 acres land in question.

China Civil Engineering and Construction Company was expected to start the road works in February this year but the work delayed as a result of the failure by the company to secure land for offices, staff accommodation and stores.


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