The government and the Amuru district cultural leaders have reached a settlement that will see establishment of Amuru Sugar works by Madhavani group in the district.
There has been tension since 2007 when Amuru district land board leased Madhavani group 10,000 hectares of land.
As the land titles were being processed, the residents and local politicians sued the company and the district land board challenging the transaction. They claimed the district land board were bribed by the Madhavani group for the lease, but the judge ruled in favor of the district land board. The community appealed and it (court of appeal) is yet to make a ruling.
Yesterday, leaders from the chiefdoms of Pagak, Pamucha and Toro and members of the Amuru executive council agreed to settlement with the government. In a meeting held in Kampala, Betty Amongi, the Cabinet minister for lands and urban development said the affected communities will be compensated, and the government will meet the legal costs of the community lawyers. The minister also said the locals will own shares from the 51% shares that will be owned by the government. Madhavani will hold 49%.
Prof Ben Pen Mogi, the Gulu university Vice Chancellor who is mediating the settlement process urged residents to support this because it is a big step towards driving out poverty from the Acholi region. He criticized politicians who did not welcome the news of the settlement saying a leader who does not appreciate development is not well qualified enough to be leading.
“There are politicians jealous of this. I think any politician who opposes development in his/her constituency is not suitable to be a leader.”- Prof Pen Mogi said.
Acholi members of parliament are however divided over this with a section questioning why the government is more interested in the land more than the investor.
Democratic Party chairman Norbert Mao however told Acholi leaders to be visionary. He says they should think big not just in short term. “ The Acholi land is like Rwanda and Burundi combined,… that’s how much land we have!”- he said.
The parties have agreed to register the deed of settlement in the court of appeal in 2 weeks, and a meeting with stake holders has been planned for the 3rd week of July. After meeting the owners, the survey of the land will start before the end of July, according to the agreement. There are about 21 registered land owners in the contested land.
By our Reporter