Dozens of squatters on land belonging to the Uganda Railways Corporation -URC in Mukono district are in a panic as the deadline for their eviction fast approaches.
The eviction notices affect squatters in Kyetume, Koloo, Katikolo, Namilyango, Kisenyi, Kisoga, Byafula and Lweza among others
In April this year, URC directed all squatters to vacate its land in preparation for the revamping of railways services.
Only two weeks remain until the expiry of the deadline.
The majority of the squatters along the Namilyango railway reserve are yet to heed the directive.
Some of them want URC to compensate them before they vacate the land.
John Kibirige, one of the affected residents, says that they have been on the said land since the 70s and ought to be compensated so that they can properly bury their loved ones.
Steven Asiriya, another squatter in the Namilyango railway reserve, says that his family has lived on the land for decades and wonders why the government has branded them, encroachers.
“I have lived on this land so far for 43 years now. So, did my parents and their parents before them who we have buried in our compound as it has been the norm. Where am I supposed to put them with no option of relocation or compensation?” asked Asiriya amidst tears.
Stella Nalumansi, another squatter along Kyetume, says that the six months given to them to vacate isn’t enough.
“Most of have businesses along the railway line. Moving without knowing where to establish your business isn’t easy,” she said.
Daniel Kimbugwe recounts in 2012 when unknown people tried to forcefully evict them and demolished their houses on grounds that they were in the railway reserve without consulting them.
He says that they sought protection from parliament and the matter is still up because no decision was reached.
Kimbugwe however, says that if it really turns out that they are illegal occupants, they should be allowed to occupy the remaining space or be compensated.
Abudal Masongo, the chairperson LC I Chairperson Lweza Village, says that in 2016 a few residents from his area were compensated but the money wasn’t equivalent to their property, which has made it difficult for them to relocate.
Mukono Resident District Commission-RDC, Fatuma Ndisaaba Nabitaka wants URC to ensure that all staff who sold the land to the settlers penalized. She asked URC to come up with an arrangement to help resettle the encroachers.
Stanley Ssendegeya, the Managing Director URC says that they have a plan for the encroachers but he isn’t authorities to speak about it at the moment.