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Evicted Naguru tenants spend night in the cold

Lost in deep thought, 73-year-old Veronica Welo looked on as a bulldozer razed to the ground the house in which she had lived since she was a little girl.

Staring at her scattered property beside the debris, she broke down in tears.

“Where do we go now?” Welo, a widow, asked her two grandchildren as they collected scrap from the debris. “I have lived here since I was a young girl.”
Looking distressed and restlessly pacing up and down, she said: “I have no money for transport back to the village – because going to the village is the only option I have”.

Welo, who hails from Koboko district, was one of the tenants that were forcefully evicted from the Nakawa-Naguru estates and their condemned housing units demolished. There was panic and a stampede in the Naguru estate as residents woke up to the sound of bulldozers. As Welo pleaded with the police to spare her housing unit, Kampala Capital City Authority law enforcement officers armed with sledge hammers, axes, hoes and all sorts of tools started demolishing the house.

“I’m going to spend the night in the cold until my relatives from Koboko collect me,” she said.

Sitting on 66 hectares, the estate had 1,750 dilapidated housing units, which Kampala City Council condemned. The estate was established by the colonial administration in the 1950s. The eviction is meant to pave way for the redevelopment of the area into a satellite city and OPEC Prime Properties, a UK firm, will do the work.

The eviction exercise, which started on Monday, is expected to raze all the housing units, although public utilities like a church, mosque and schools are still standing.
Nakawa Resident District Commissioner, Monday Kintu, and Kampala Metropolitan police chief, Grace Turyagumanawe, monitored the eviction.

A night in the cold

Sarah Ogwang, 54, whose family was one of the 20 evicted on Monday, spent the night in the cold. She said she had no money to relocate her family to Kitgum district.

“The government should at least meet my relocation costs,” she pleaded.

Mary Nyamahunge, an 83-year-old grandmother of three, wandered around the estate with her property. She said by throwing women and children out into the cold, the government had shown it was inhumane. Michael Kato, a father of four, took shelter under a tree with his property, pondering his next move. He told The Observer on Tuesday that he had spent the night in the cold because he has no money to rent a house.

“I have distributed my children amongst my friends, as I try to improvise. Last night, I collected iron sheets from the debris and formed a shed under which I spent the night,” he said.

He added that he would collect more iron sheets from the debris and put up a small temporary structure in the compound of his demolished housing unit where he will live until he raises money for rent. Some stranded evictees resorted to selling their property at giveaway prices to raise money for either transport to their respective villages or rent nearby.


For children, the eviction means they will have to momentarily drop out of school. Some will have to change schools, even though the second term is already midway. Ssenoga Yolanimu, a 17-year-old senior two student of Kololo Secondary School, said he had just rented a single room in the estate and his eviction meant he would have to return home in Mayuge district until next term.

As many evictees cried foul, several children, including 12-year-old Eric Bukenya, were rummaging through the debris, picking out any item that they thought was of some value – from discarded saucepans to broken door latches and all sorts of metals.

“I’m going to sell this scrap to raise money for books and clothes,” Bukenya said.

What next?

The evicted tenants described their eviction as illegal and have vowed to challenge it in court.

“How can the government evict us without a court order? The whole exercise is illegal,” said Charles Nyeko.

Through their lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, the evicted tenants are expected to file a suit in the High Court challenging their eviction. The leader of opposition in Parliament, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, visited the stranded evictees on Tuesday and asked the government to meet the relocation and settlement costs of the affected families.

However, in January this year Justice Eldard Mwangusya of the High Court threw out a petition by the tenants. They had sought a court injunction to block their pending eviction.


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