The Minister of Works, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, said his ministry needs Shs40b as “disturbance allowance” to compensate encroachers on the Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) land reserve.
Gen Katumba, who was addressing encroachers and Jinja City leaders at Jinja City Hall on Wednesday, said: “We shall need Sh40b for disturbance allowance for all encroachers from Kampala to Malaba if area Members of Parliament convince Parliament, the committee on infrastructure and Cabinet.”
He, however, said there is no money for compensating illegal occupants but there is a team on the ground to conduct an evaluation exercise in case government decides to disburse the disturbance allowance.
“There is no money for compensation because everybody, including the Cabinet, knows; the Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure clearly stated that there should be no compensation of illegal occupants,” Gen Katumba said.
He added: “If there is documentary evidence that a person got land through the District Land Board, put up a structure and has an occupation permit, we shall treat them differently.”
In April, URC gave squatters on its land a six-month ultimatum to vacate it so that the said land is used to revamp railway transport in the country.
The encroachers include those with temporary and permanent structures, including houses, schools, churches, and garages, among others.
According to Gen Katumba, there will be three phases of rehabilitation of the railway and those who are 50 feet away can remain in the first phase but prepare to leave in three years.
The Jinja City secretary for works, Mr Richard Mbazira, urged government to discipline land officials who allegedly issued fake titles.
“The problem is not with those who encroached on URC land, but with the regional land offices which created titles on the contested land instead of protecting it,” he said.
Mr Bernard Mbayo, the Jinja City Council speaker, said encroachers should accept to be relocated to Northern Division where there is enough land compared to Jinja Southern Division.