The opposition political party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leadership has told the people of Bududa to reject any plans by the government to relocate them from their area, saying this could be a plot to take over their land.
Party leaders including president Patrick Amuriat Oboi, Nathan Nandala Mafabi the secretary general, party chairperson Wasswa Biriggwa, Leader of Opposition Betty Aol Ochan and former party president Kizza Besigye were in Bududa to deliver relief items to the October 11 Bududa mudslide disaster that killed over 50 people.
Besigye said living around the mountains would not be a threat to the people if the government had put in place sufficient measures to conserve the mountains. He says there are many countries in the world which have mountains which are much higher than those in Uganda but they rarely face mudslide problems.
Besigye added that in the early 60s, the colonial government planned and put terraces in the mountains in Kabale district. He says that the same idea needs to be replicated in the Mt Elgon areas.
“They have stolen everything in the country and its only land that is left to steal. Relocating you from your land could be a ploy to steal that land.” Besigye said.
After the 2010 mudslide disaster in the same area that killed an estimated 300 people, government bought land in Kiryandongo in western Uganda to relocate the people of Bududa to avoid a repeat of the disaster. However the relocation did not materialise due to rejection by the locals and corruption by the officials in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) who were in charge of the relocation.
When President Yoweri Museveni visited Bukalasi sub-county on October 14 after the mudslide, the chairperson of Bududa district, Wilson Watira told him to expedite the plans of relocating people to safer areas. Museveni apologised to the people of Bududa and said he'd been misled on the relocation of the people from the mudslide-prone areas. He however did not elaborate on how he was misled and by whom.
Besigye asserted that the biggest problem in Uganda is the lack of systems that can preserve the environment. He says the mudslides would not have claimed lives if there were warning systems to alert people about any impending calamity.
FDC president Oboi faulted the government for failing to conserve the mountains and hills in Bududa, exposing the population to landslides. He said the people of Bududa must stand against any plan to be relocated and fight for their land saying that they shouldn't leave their wealth behind.
"The mudslide that killed our people would have been avoided. These mountains here can be conserved but Museveni doesn’t want to conserved. He wants to force people of Bukalasa to leave their beautiful land, their fertile lands out of sheer negligence. For me, I think its a plan by Museveni to ensure that you people leave here but the question is, who does want this land to be left for? Mu dear people we have to stand firm, we have to protect our land.