BULAMBULI. A disaster that struck Bududa District in 2010 left several villages buried by the mudslide from the nearby Mt Elgon, hundreds dead and scores displaced.
Government, in a bid to avoid similar re-occurrences since there were visible huge cracks on the mountain, relocated the survivors to Kiryadongo District.
However, many of the relocated residents have since returned reasoning that government had abandoned them. Some claimed they didn’t adapt easily to the new environment since the soils were not as fertile as those back home in Bududa.
To that effect, government acquired about 2,800 acres of land worth Shs8b in Bunambutye Sub-county in Bulambuli District on grounds that it had similar features like the Bududa soils to have the affected land slide victims resettled, according to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
In July 2015, the Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees minister, Mr Hilary Onek, organised a meeting in Mabale Village in Bunambutye Sub-county and promised the victims that they will be relocated.
Mr Onek explained that the ground team is working hard to ensure that land is divided for every family to acquire two acres for both resettlement and cultivation.
According to the resettlement action plan for Bugisu sub-region from OPM, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, government will also construct health facilities, schools, churches, mosques and industrial parks for resettled landslide victims.
The OPM delegation headed by Mr Titus Muhofa, said the verification exercise of vulnerable families is meant to pave way for the resettlement of 500 families out of 25,000 families waiting to be relocated to safer areas in Bunambutye Sub-county.
“The OPM will verify few families that are at risk of landslides and then be resettled in safe low-lying areas in Bunambutye and those even who had forced themselves to the secured land have to come back to the ancestral villages for verification before we could officially resettle them,” Mr Muhofa said.
The construction of roads to create better access to the area has been completed and the exercise has been successful after OPM brought all stakeholders in the affected areas on board, according to OPM officials.
He said the necessary infrastructure has been put in place and the 8.4km-road has been completed under the supervision of the OPM.
But Majinya County MP John Baptist Nambeshe attributed the delay to relocate the land slide victims to corruption in government.
“The place where government is claiming to have bought is waterlogged and some people are still claiming ownership of the land,” said Mr Nambeshe. He claimed that the cost of the said land was inflated by the government officials whom he didn’t name.
“This is a stage managed delay of the purported relocation. They just want to confuse us and misappropriate money,” he claimed.
According to Mr Nambeshe, the government should acquire another piece of land but not that one of Bunambutye.
“How do you relocate people from Mt Elgon to swampy areas? Which type of relocation is that?” he asked.
Bududa District chairperson Wilson Watira wondered why government has delayed to relocate people yet the process started in 2010 during the Nametsi landslides.
Bulambuli LC5 chairperson Simon Peter Wanazofu said OPM is responding to the district’s concern to relocate the most vulnerable families in an exercise that will cover the sub-counties of Namisuni, Lusha, Sisiyi, Bulago, Bumabono, Buluganya, Masila and Bumasoba.
Mr Wanazofu, however, urged government to speed up the process of relocating people to safer areas saying it’s long overdue.
The Elgon region has registered several spates of deadly landslides. In March 2010, for instance, more than 150 people were killed and 10,000 displaced in Nametsi, Bududa District.
The OPM spokesperson, Mr Julius Mucunguzi, declined to comment. “I cannot confirm the allegations because I’m not sure whether you work with Daily Monitor,” he said.