Lawmakers on the Presidential Affairs Committee have asked Parliament to compel the government to back off Bulambuli land, citing unresolved ownership questions.
The committee in its 176-page report to Parliament wants the government to find land elsewhere to resettle survivors of landslides in the Elgon region.
“The Committee finds it not prudent to spend Government funds on infrastructure that is sitting on land characterized by ownership challenges,” reads the report in part.
The committee also established that there are still many unresolved complaints to different stakeholders.
The Committee wants the government to rethink its position on Bulambuli land and instead relocate the affected people to areas with a clear public status.
“Government should interest itself on its existing vacant land in the Country and priorities using it for resettlement of IDPs,” reads the report in part.
“Government is in possession of Land in different parts of the country including parts of government lands reserved for refugees in Kiryandongo, Kyangwali, Isingiro, Rwamanja and Kyaka,” the legislators said.
The Committee further indicated that the government should ensure that programs intended by the Office of the Prime Minister for the resettled victims in Kiryandongo be mainstreamed in the Local Government structures of Kiryandongo [district] for ease of implementation and sustainability.
In November this year, Parliament tasked the committee chaired by Adjumani district Woman MP Jesca Ababiku (NRM) to investigate the questions surrounding the conflict on Bulambuli land, acquired by the office of the Prime Minister to resettle victims of landslides in the region.
This came after media reports that over Shs 32 bn that had been committed for the purchase and resettlement activities had been swindled.
The committee established that indeed the Government represented by the Office of the Prime Minister purchased 2,868 acres of land located at Bunambutye Sub-County in Bulambuli District, but the resettlement process quickly faced a halt because of legal challenges mounted by unsuccessful bidders.
“The Committee was informed that the said procurement attracted a lot of interest and challenges emanating from numerous objections from unsuccessful bidders and land ownership complaints which led to protracted Administrative reviews,” reads the report.
The report adds that, “it is the Committee’s finding that the transaction documents for the 2,876 acre of land purchased are available and in the custody of Office of the Prime Minister.”
Despite acquisition of legal titles, the Committee observed that quiet (actual) possession of the land purchased was not realized, and that the envisaged objective to resettle Bududa Landslide Survivors and over 100,000 People at Risk of Landslides in the Elgon Sub-Region remains unrealized.
This, according to the MPs was due to errors in the procurement on the part of the Office of the Prime Minister.
The committee members premised their conclusion on what they described as deliberate refusal to consider objection to notice of the “best evaluated bidders,” resulting into a protracted legal battle.
In a related development, the committee observed that there were instances where prices were exaggerated, raising concerns of value for money.
The Committee has also recommended for the ministry of lands to desist from making blanket disclaimers, which may not be reflective of the actual status of land under search, to avoid misleading stakeholders.
“It is the Committee’s considered opinion that for purposes of accountability and authenticity of information on search reports, the Ministry clearly states actual facts since they are mandated to provide factual information in the course of making search reports,” the report reads.