PAKWACH. Police in Pakwach district has launched a search for a local council one chairperson after he reportedly sold land belonging to Uganda Railways cooperation (URC).
The village chairperson, (names withheld), is a former employee of URC company attached to Gulu and the current Village chairperson of Nyakatita cell, Pakwach town council. Police say the suspect duped the unsuspecting locals that the land in question was given to him by URC as his retirement benefit.
The disappearance of the embattled chairperson comes at the time when occupants of the land are demanding for a refund of their money after URC gave them eviction notices. URC also informed them that their purchase was null and void and unnecessary to give its utmost attention.
It's reported that the village chairman vanished in early January 2021 following the inspection by the cooperation to measure the land and remind the squatters of the pending rehabilitation plan by the government.
About 10 community members showed the team of inspectors from URC a copy of purchase land agreement.
According to Mr Hilary Onekalit, an affected person, he bought half an acre of the land in question near the in-land port in 1999 worth shs 2 million after assurance from the suspect that it was their ancestral land.
"We are required to relocate within the shortest time possible but I don’t have any other piece of land. I’m informed that I have to settle my issue with the chairman who sold this land to me. I have been trying to call his known number but all in vain. I will never leave without the refund of my money because I have all the supporting documents", Onekalit vowed.
A section of the community members implicated the chairperson of overseeing sale of land clearly demarcated .
Ms Patricia Aboko, the village vice chairperson expressed ignorance of the chairpersons’ where about. She disclosed that the family members are hesitant to reveal his location.
"He mysteriously left without telling even the office he leads. We have tried talking to the wife and other family members but all are not willing to disclose where he is”, she said.
The officer in charge Pakwach railway station Mr Benson Inima said his office is overwhelmed with the claims.
"We had meeting with the team of land board railway and the same complain were raised and we asked them to come up with the agreements and verify them. We want the chairperson to sort the issues with the affected persons but for now we are telling them to voluntarily evacuate the railway land. And those with graves and want to exhume them, let them follow court processes" Inima said.
According to Mr Jonathan Tukamuhabwa, the chief surveyor URC, sections of land were dubiously sold with land titles acquired.
He said all rightful land owners were duly compensated in 1960s by the government and urged those with complains to formally lodge it with police.
Other people likely to be affected are those staying within a range of 150 metres from the railway line.
With the 6months extension ending in March 2022, over 300 affected occupants of the land have expressed fear that the deadline issued by the cooperation to relocate and pave way for the rehabilitation and revamp is short and they don't have money to buy land to resettle and want government to reconsider offering them settlement package before March.