Editorial: Permanent solution needed for Ntawo land squatters

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On August 23, police rescued the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda,, 38 provincial bishops and Uganda Christian University (UCU) staff in Ntawo, after a mob attempted to lynch them and torch the bus in which they were travelling.

The bishops had gone to inspect the UCU land which other people are claiming ownership of to establish the extent of the problem of squatters and later deliberate on the way forward.

The Standard has since learnt that over 800 squatters, including some government officials, are settled, illegally on a large part of the 649 acres of land that Hamu Mukasa gave the Church of Uganda before it also donated it to Bishop Tucker Theological College (BTTC) now UCU, in the early 1920s.

While the Church inherited some squatters when it first received the land, more still occupied the land afterwards. An audacious 90 percent of the squatters are constructing permanent structures on the land, making it difficult for the church to repossess it. This problem should have been nipped in the bud.

Now that it was not, going forward there needs to be a permanent solution to the problem. Land wrangles in Uganda can get ugly, even fatal!

The Church needs to engage the squatters in dialogue since none of them (squatters) have an authentic land title, then try and recover as much land as possible progressively. Professional mediation services ought to be engaged in this process.

Lastly, since the greatest cause of illegal occupation is the fact that most of the land lay idle for a long time, making profitable us of it, and leasing it to investors would be a clear way of safeguarding it from squatters in future.

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