Hundreds Face Eviction from Railway Land in Kasese

Uganda Railway Corporation has asked hundreds of squatters on its reserve land in Kasese district to vacate it voluntarily or face forceful eviction.

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Residents have put up hundreds of permanent houses along the railway line since the 1990’s.

On Wednesday, officials from the Uganda Railways Corporation held several meetings with the squatters and asked to vacate voluntarily if they are to save some of their materials like bricks and iron sheets.

John Tamale, the in charge of estates Uganda Railways Corporation says no compensation will be paid out to the affected people and institutions since they are considered encroachers.

He says encroachers took advantage of the abandonment of the Railway line and settled there without authorization from Uganda Railways Corporation.

He says following the launch of the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway by the heads of state from the East African community last year, everything is set for the revival of the Kampala-Kasese line.

This particular line was built in 1956 for the transportation of copper from Kilembe Mines to Jinja for smelting. However, in 1972 mining stopped, but the Uganda Railways Corporation continued operating public transport services till early 1990s.

George Jawakongo, a security officer from Uganda Railways Corporation says they have already asked Kasese Municipal authorities and police to evict encroachers, who settle within 30 meters from the railway line as soon as possible.

He said a survey has already been conducted to extend the standard gauge railway line Kasese to the DRC. Salim Bwambale, one of the affected residents says they are likely to suffer huge loses should government fail to come to their rescue.

Bwambale constructed a rental house on the land, which fetches him UGX 500,000 each month in rent. Some of the institutions along the railway line include churches and schools.

Godfrey Kabbyanga, the Mayor Kasese Municipality says they have nothing to do for the affected people because they were repeatedly warned against settling on the Railway land. Kabbyanga supports the decision by government to revamp the railway line saying Kasese is considered a potential industrial area after securing over 400 acres of land for industries.

Land grabbing in Kasese has not only affected the Railway land but also the gazetted industrial park and Kilembe mines.