UPDF evicts 200 from Maruzi ranch, burns down their houses

More than 200 encroachers on Maruzi ranch, Apac district are now homeless after their houses were torched by the army over the weekend. The affected people have been residents of Corner Mulema trading center in the heart of Maruzi ranch.

They claim that soldiers deployed to guard the ranch stormed the area on Sunday and torched their houses leaving them in the cold. The evictees reportedly took advantage of the lockdown to resettle on the ranch. They set up makeshift houses, opened up farms and started cutting trees for charcoal burning.

In 2018, the government allocated around 50 square miles of land in Maruzi ranch to Hillside Investment Ltd for palm oil production. Some encroachers vacated peacefully while others remained behind purportedly to wait for compensation from government.

Bosco Waca, whose house was set ablaze claims that he lost Shs 3 million and other valuables in the burnt house.

“It upsets when you see your house set ablaze early in the morning when people are still sleeping. I have lost my money and where do they want me to go with all these siblings?” he asked.

Another affected person, who declined to reveal his name for fear of reprisal from the army, said that he has relocated his family to a neighbour’s place. He wondered how they are going to travel to their homes given the financial burden.

Richard Odongo, the Acamcabo village LC 1 chairperson, confirmed that many houses were torched and called for the government intervention.

Emma Ngabiriano, the Apac resident district commissioner, who chairs the district security committee, noted that the occupants are criminals from Amolatar and other districts neighbouring Apac. He pledged to pay a visit to the ranch to meet the complainants.

The government-owned Maruzi ranch covers Akokoro and Ibuje sub counties in Apac district.

This article originally appeared on The Observer