MARACHA. The elders of Tara sub-county in Maracha district have joined politicians in calling for peace to rein over the ongoing border clashes between the residents of the area and those from Lobule sub-county in Koboko district.
The fight over boundary that has been ongoing for years between the residents of Tara in Maracha district and those of Lobule in Koboko district worsened on Thursday when some locals from Lobule crossed over to Aruwe village in Ombavu parish, Tara subcounty to destroy houses.
Over ten houses and household items worth millions of shillings were destroyed from seven homesteads and 21 goats also looted in the process.
This was allegedly in defence of a one Mr Mathew Alima, a resident of the neighbouring Lodre village also in Ombavu parish, Maracha district who had since crossed over to establish a home in Lobule sub-county, Koboko district.
According to Mr Biajo Abadrile, the Tara sub-county chairperson, Alima who has some of his garden and a fish pond in Maracha, was trying to claim ownership of a 15-acre piece of land on which the affected seven families in Aruwe village sit.
“Alima’s home is right now in Koboko but his parents and brothers are with us here in Maracha. As he decided to go to Koboko, the Koboko district local government supported him with fingerlings because he started his own project for fish in Aruwe village, Maracha district,” Abadrile stated.
“In March this year, Koboko district officials decided to bring a sign post to be placed where the project is and the sign post details are the details of Koboko district, that is the thing that has provoked people. For them, it appeared as if Koboko wants to claim their land through Alima,” Abadrile said.
He added that the situation worsened this week when a group of youths from Lobule sub-county invaded Aruwe village and destroyed the said houses.
In revenge, the residents of Aruwe also mobilized themselves to slash down Alima’s banana, tobacco and cassava plantations, and proceeded to destroy his brothers’ houses in Lodre village.
Alima’s fish pond was also vandalized in anger, its sign post removed and handed over to Ms Esther Soet, the Maracha resident district commissioner (RDC).
However, we couldn’t reach Alima for a comment over the allegations as unconfirmed reports indicated that he was injured and receiving treatment in undisclosed health facility in Koboko.
By Saturday, youths on both sides had mobilized themselves with panga knives, spears, bows and arrows ready to protect their interest.
But on the fateful day, Hon. James Acidri, the Maracha East Member of Parliament (MP) met the angry youths of Tara and asked them to remain peaceful.
“I don’t want you to fight because the people of Lobule are your brothers and sisters, we have intermarried across the border. For now, remain calm as we look for peaceful means of addressing this matter. I have already talked to my colleague MP of Koboko County, Hon. James Baba and we have together agreed to have a meeting on Monday over this problem,” Acidri said.
Acidri pledged to assist the affected families and the community as he implored them to join hands in repairing the destroyed houses.
The local leaders who attended the meeting and a section of elders from Tara sub-county joined Acidri in calling for peace to prevail over the matter.
Mr Justo Andia, an elder who doubles as the former Ombavu Parish Chief asked the youths to remain peaceful and instead, give chance for elders on both sides to sit and resolve the impasse.
He also appealed to Acidri to use his position to get the colonial map so as to solve the longstanding border dispute between Maracha and Koboko districts.
Mr Musa Amid, 27, a father of 4 and a resident of Aruwe village whose houses were destroyed now fears for his security, saying the attackers may easily return to kill them.
Amid said he lost all his household property and now doesn’t know where to begin since the situation has still remained tense.
When contacted on phone, Mr Mr Hassan Hiwumbire, the Maracha district police commander (DPC) said they have already deployed enough police and UPDF officers along the border to deter the people on either side from crossing to attack each other ahead of the high profiled meeting on Monday.
Hon. James Baba, the Koboko County MP confirmed to West Nile Web that the scheduled meeting will take place on Monday, June 1.
“We are having a meeting tomorrow (Monday) at the site with the two communities. The district chairpersons of the two districts, sub-county chairpersons and elders will all be there,” Baba said.
“We are trying to make sure this issue is peacefully resolved, we don’t want conflict there, we are related. We have lived together for many years and there is just no need to clash, everything can be reached through negotiation,” Baba stressed.
By press time, Mr Hassan Nginya, the Koboko district chairperson couldn’t pick our repeated calls aimed at getting a response on the alleged Koboko sign post in Maracha district which has revived the tension over the disputed border.