Jinja: Authorities from Fairland University in Jinja have ran to court following the illegal settlement of the Uganda People’s Defense Forcers (UPDF) on the university land.
The 10-acre-land (plot M149) is at Kimaka opposite the army school, Kimaka Senior Command and Staff College in the southern division of Jinja city. According to Fairland University, the land was bought in 2002 from Jinja district land Board before the emergency of the army college.
It’s alleged that in 2004, the Army without the university consent, forcefully occupied the land, blocking the university officials from accessing it and intercepted the construction of a quality and standard institution of higher learning in Busoga and Eastern region as well.
Dr. Solomon Wakabi, the Fairland University Vice Chancellor, says UPDF settlement on their land is illegal and they are not ready to lose such a property. He says UPDF has been given only 30 days to get hell out of the land as legal action is under way.
“The Army blocked us from setting up a standard university as planned. Them being on the land is illegal because it belongs to Fairland University having bought it 2002. The university never had any talks or any pay with the UPDF over that land,” says Dr. Wakabi.
Dr. Wakabi notes that between 2016 and 2017, the Ministry of Works and Transport’s Standard Gauge Railway chose plot M149 and other neighboring plots to set up their railway station and admitted to meet all valued costs. The university, instead, was relocated to Walukuba Masese.
“What surprises me is that after the Army getting hinted that the railway station is to be set up in that land, they intercepted the move. Standard Gauge Railway was hindered to pay for the plot and all was in vain,” the Vice chancellor noted.
According to him, the university has always tried to defend its land and even the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs tried to ensure justice between the two parties.
“This has forced the board of Fairland University to petition against the Uganda Attorney General in courts of law as the only way the university can attain justice in that matter,” Dr Wakabi added.
He says the university administration have engaged the Military Land Board chairperson, Defense Ministry Permanent Secretary and the Minister of Defense himself to settle the ‘Army-University-land’ disputes but all was fertile.
Dr. Wakabi wonders why the UPDF has allowed Standard Gauge Railway to pay those who were affected by the railway exercises in Kimaka but the university’s plot M149 has remained in the illegal hands of the army.
While contacted, however, Brigadier Felix Kulayigye, the UPDF spokesperson, refuted the arguments, saying the land belongs to UPDF. He says the complainants of the land are unidentified.
“The Army are not going to vacate the land. It belongs to us; those do not know what they are talking about. They need to go to court if they are sure the land belongs to them,” says Kulayigye advising the university authorities to seek guidance from the person whom they claim sold to them.