For 47 years, Rock high school, one of the oldest traditional government schools in Tororo district, has churned out hundreds of students who are now well positioned in various organisations and government departments.
However as the mixed-day secondary school prepares to celebrate its golden jubilee in 2022, the most shocking information that has engulfed the school is that the land the school is sitting on, is being claimed by land grabbers who are knocking at the school gate.
A one Emma Elvis Bakame, whose proper identities remain scanty thus far but said to hail from Mbarara, has come up claiming ownership of the land the school is sitting on. Records from the stakeholders meeting at Rock high show Bakame stating that he is a flight captain. But does not divulge more details.
Rock high school sits on 3 hectares of land, and strategically located within Tororo Municipality.
How it started
Bakame, surprised the school in 2016 when he issued it an eviction order. On August 8, 2016, Bakame, through his lawyers, Didas Nkurunziza and Co Advocates, issued a 14-day eviction notice to the permanent secretary ministry of Education.
“The purpose of this letter is to put you on notice that our client requires possession of his land and to request you to do cause the said school to vacate the same. Being a government-aided school, our client thought it proper to bring this matter to your attention so that an orderly vacation of the property can be carried out.” read part of the Bakame's letter.
“Needless to state, if we do not receive your written confirmation in compliance with this notice within 14 days from the date hereof, our client will have no option but protect his proprietary and legal interests through the legal machinery,’’ the letter added.
In a response dated August 16, Ethel Kamba for the permanent secretary, threw out Bakame's claims and said; “For the last 40 years, the school has been occupying the land under freehold register volume 446 Folio 5 and has never known any claimant for the said land.”
In a meeting with the Land Commission of Inquiry into land matters, which is currently conducting locus in quo visits in eastern region, enraged Tororo residents, told the probe chairperson, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, commissioners and counsels how land grabbers had infiltrated the district to the extent of claiming school land and part of Tororo rock.
The Tororo Municipal Council physical planner, Goretti Nakiyimba, came under fire after she was unanimously accused by fellow employees and residents for fraudulently allocating town plots to herself with impunity. While being questioned by Bamugemereire, the visibly beaten Nakiyimba who tried to defend numerous allegations brought against her failed to explain the allegations brought against her.
In another case, a former entomologist of Tororo district, one Joel Emanu, is also accused of forcefully grabbing land from Asinge B, Nyalakot parish in Osukuru sub county. Residents accused Emanu for using Gen Salim Saleh and Gen J.J. Odongo’s names to steal land.
Emanu, residents said, connived with the police and brought police’s flying squad to grab land belonging to late Paul Emuron. The land administrator and heir are Diana Emuron and David Emuron respectively. Emanu, reportedly instructed police to arrest six residents and charge them on trumpeted charges of criminal trespass, in a bid to frustrate their efforts to fight for their land.
“My lord, three years ago, on June 22, 2016, somebody came with a certificate of title claiming that the Rock high land belongs to him. We were really very shocked and disturbed how somebody could just come up like that to claim land that belongs to a school that is even older than him,” said Difasi Yoga Ocharo, the Rock high school chairman board of governors said.
Apollo Lyadda, headmaster Rock high school said: “Rock high is a no go zone. How do you leave all the land in Mbarara and you come and claim Rock high school? Let him go to Mbarara town and look for land”
Bakame did not attend the meeting. Tororo people are wondering how daring he is to come all the way from Mbarara and attempt to grab land in Tororo.
“This is a real joke. How dare can you claim Rock high school land, of all things, are you really normal? One parent, Yokana Obwala said.
”We were born here, we started this school here and we saw it grow to where it is here. So, who is fooling who? This so called Bakame land grabber man here should be prosecuted and dealt with accordingly.”
“The land is going, but we shall resist in the hottest terms possible and mobilize the public to fight for this school” said Samson Opio, a board member Rock high school.
Speaking with bitterness, pain and stress, complainant after complainant guided by inquiry commission assistant lead counsel, Andrew Odiit, told the probe chilling stories of how land grabbers who have some bit of money are using police to forcefully evict people from their land.
“The police is supposed to protect us by keeping law and order but we no longer have police. The police are now so money minded that even if you give them Shs 1,000 each, they can come and terrorise and evict you from your land” one lady identified as Joyce Acanga said.
“How can on ordinary man order for a police flying squad to come and terrorise us in our land?” Janet Aarakit said.
“You report a case to police, they ask you for money, and not just money, a lot of money. The next day the very guys who got money from you, are the ones you see evicting you. It is terrible. Justice Bamugemereire should really help us, otherwise, before you know, we shall soon be landless”
The land grabbers seem not spare anything these days. From the wetlands, lakes to rocks are not spared. In Tororo, one land grabber is also claiming part of Tororo rock.
“The buffer zone of the town rock is gone” said Thomas Okware. “It is unbelievable, but this is happening”
The Land Commission of inquiry into land matters was set up by President Yoweri Museveni and sworn in sworn in February 2017 to carry out inquiry into land matters including policies, administration, management and registration.
The government aided school that derives its name from Tororo rock in the background, was started by Indian Education Committee (IEC) as Pillias senior secondary in 1964.
They ran the school up to 1971. After the expulsion of the Indians by then Uganda President Idi Amin dada, a group of parents took over the school in 1972 and called it Tororo parents school.
In 1976, government eventually took over the school and renamed in Rock high school. Since then to date, it has remained a government school.
Rock high school has 2,500 students, and employs 70 teachers on payroll, 30 paid by parents and 50 support staff. Because of their commitment and love for the school, parents constructed a Shs 3 billion four-storey library complex with their own money.
The parents also constructed a S.2-S.5 classroom block. The well known school with some of the best teaching staff has produced stars that have represented the school in various academic contests.