BUTALEJA. Government’s plan to modernise Lwoba-Bwirya Irrigation Scheme in Himutu Sub-county Butaleja District hangs in balance after local farmers rejected a Shs26 billion project.
The residents argue that government is targeting to grab their land.
“We entirely depend on this scheme for our livelihood. So by allowing government to take over its management is like sending us to commit suicide” Mr Gamole Wabweyo, the farmers’ chairperson, said during the meeting.
He added: “The said project, DOHO 11, was designed for Maizimasa scheme excluding Himutu Rice Scheme but we are surprised that the district leaders, mainly the LC5 [Mr Richard Waya] and the MP [Mr Moses Musamba Nagwomu] are restless by pushing it to be implemented under Himutu scheme for their selfish interests.”
The farmers’ meeting convened at Kangalaba Primary School was, however, dispersed by the police, who claimed it was illegal.
But the farmers’ representatives insisted that the police and other leaders were informed about the meeting.
However, the farmers later re-grouped at the rice scheme and expressed their displeasure at their leaders, accusing them of trying to betray the people of Himutu Sub-county. Dozens of armed police officers were seen patrolling the area.
Mr Wabweyo told Daily Monitor that the meeting was aimed at finding binding resolutions ahead of another meeting by the Ministry of Water and Environment.
The project stretches from Hamada to Halanga.
The Doho 11 project funded by the African Development Bank [ADB] and government of Uganda had been scheduled to start between March and April but there is a possibility that works could be postponed to May.
According to the framers, more than 3,000 residents depend on this scheme. However, the LC3 chairman, Mr Fabiano Higenyi, said government is not intending to grab people’s land as its being speculated by disgruntled politicians.
Mr Higenyi revealed that the government only intends to modernise the scheme in order benefit farmers more. He said the project intends to develop infrastructure and water gate channels.
“As a leader, it’s a critical moment for me because farmers are being misguided and have not understood the benefits of the scheme,” Mr Higenyi explained.
However, the district Woman MP, Ms Milly Mugeni, called upon leaders to apply reasonable measures to convince the farmers other than threatening them.
“We need to talk to them so that they own the project. Leaders should also append their signatures for cases of further backlash,” Ms Mugeni said.
Implementation. We got concerned over the remarks by our MP on radio who said whether we like it or not, the project has to be implemented,” Mr Wabweyo explained. Adding that, “These people have a hidden agenda. Farmers have rejected the project and insist that the project should remain where it is supposed to be implemented and not in Himutu.” Use of force. One of the farmers, Mr Samson Bituma said “People of Himutu Sub-county are ready to defend their scheme because it’s the only source of income, so by forcibly throwing out farmers is likely to cause bloodshed and we are ready to die.”