By Weswa Ronnie, ELGON FM/NECJOGHA, MBALE
KAMPALA, UGANDA: Over 40 families of people living in areas at risk of landslides in Masaba sub county Sironko district in eastern Uganda have rejected government plans of relocating them to Bunambutye.
Last month, landslides killed six people and left hundreds homeless in Bududa District on the slopes of Mount Elgon.
Fred Mafabi one of the residents who was identified in landslide prone area in Masaba sub county says that he is not ready to be taken to Bunambutye in Bulambuli district and leave his land to government for gazetting it into a national park.
“Our land is too fertile and we are not ready to leave to Bulambuli which is dry and unfertile,” Mafabi fumed.
This follows what residents say are officers from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness under the Prime Minister’s Office who visited the area last week to access the number of families which qualify to be relocated to Bunambutye.
In April, the government of Uganda under the Office of the Prime Minister started the first phase of the relocation of people facing danger of the Bududa mudslides. According to the Head of Communications at OPM, Julius Mucunguzi, in this first phase they relocated 50 homes to Bunambutye where government bought land to construct 900 houses. The two bed-roomed houses where they were relocated are the first phase of a total of 900 houses that have been constructed by the UPDF Engineering Brigade.
Moses Magomu also adds that he has two wives and twenty children, so he can’t be relocated to Bulambuli since houses given are of two rooms with one hectare of land.
“We are not ready to relocate but government should instead give us hard cash and we look for safer places to settle but our land where we are being moved from should also be left intact for us to continue with our farming activities there,” Peter Nangoli the LCI chairperson of Bululaba village said.
The RDC of Sironko District, Isaac Lulaba denied having knowledge of the visit of officers from OPM to Masaba Sub County last week as residents are claiming.
“However, according to government plans all people living in disaster areas across Bugisu sub regions after being taken Bulambuli relocation land their original plots of land will be taken over by government for reforestation and then gazetted into a national park,” Lulaba said.
RECENT LANDSLIDES DEATHS IN BUDUDA
March 2010: Landslides killed about 150 people and displaced over 10,000, in Nametsi sub-county, Bududa district.
March 2011: A landslide swept the slopes of Mt. Elgon, razing three villages in Bududa district (Kubehwo, Namangasa and Nametsi) located in Bukalasi sub-county. Ninety-two bodies out of the 365 people were recovered and only 31 survivors were rescued from the three affected villages.
June 2012: Landslides occurred at Bunakasala parish, Bududa district, sweeping through four villages after a heavy downpour in the area for two days. At least nine were injured and 15 houses were buried.
August 2013: A four-year-old child, John Mangoye, the son of Stephen Waninga, a resident of Matuwa parish, was killed after a hailstorm ravaged several villages causing multiple mudslides and floods in Bushiyi sub-county in Bududa district. At least 17 other injured persons were admitted to Bududa Hospital, while an unspecified number mostly children, the elderly and disabled were unaccounted for and feared dead.