Lira City based Asian investors defrauded of Shs 9b

LIRA – Asian investors dealing in oil seeds and milling in Lira City have been defrauded of Shs 9b after supplying soya beans, sunflower and cotton to Agri Exim Uganda Limited and were not paid.

The investors include; Dev Patel of Premukh Miller, Farook Wakas of Farook Agro Ug Ltd, Muhammed Shahid of Mian Agro Ug Ltd, Anifa Aguti of Umaima Business Solution and Basra Gurcharan of Guru Nanak.

According to a letter directed to MP Judith Alyek, the Chairperson of Lango Parliamentary Group (LPG), they are seeking the intervention of the MPs and President Yoweri Museveni over the matter and protection against the fraudsters.

In the letter signed by Muhammad Atiq, the President of the Pakistani Association in Lango, they indicated that Patel lost Shs 3.6b, Farook Shs 2.3b, Shahid Shs 644m, Aguti Shs 498m and Gurcharan Shs 571m to the fraudulent deal.

The investors accused the Office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of frustrating their struggle to pin Agri Exim (U) Ltd over their money.

Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga when contacted said, he was in a meeting and would call later.

The transaction happened between March and June 2021 according to the letter.

“Around March and June 2021, we had a transaction of supplies with Agri Exim Ltd based in Oyam, but incidentally it turned out to be a fraudulent deal that has led to their loss,” the letter reads in part.

Atiq said, they are tax paying investors in Uganda and employing more than 200 people directly and about 1,000 people indirectly.

Atiq further said, they noticed that the company altered the names of the suppliers and replaced them with the names of individual farmers or local people.

“When we went to demand for the payment, they claimed we were all paid and we should not continue bothering them,” he said.

In the Memorandum of Understanding between Dev Patel (Pramukh Millers) and the company, dated February 27, 2021, they agreed that they would supply 1,500 metric tons of soya beans at the cost of Shs 2,650 per kilogram making a total of Shs 3.975bn.

The company, according to the MoU, committed itself to pay for the supplied produce from May 20, 2021 to June 7, 2021.

“When I went to collect my money, the Manager told me, my Local Purchase Order (LPO) was forged and fake and that he had already paid a person who supplied them,” Patel said.

Gajanan Ashok Patil, the former Manager said, he was no longer working with the company but he was still in office when he received the produce of the investors and were not paid.

“I am not part of them at the moment. I left because they were also disturbing me,” he says.

Farook appealed to the President to prevail and help them to recover the monies otherwise their business will collapse.

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Rukiga, Sheema, Bushenyi ban selling pork and pig movements over African Swine Fever

WESTERN UGANDA – Veterinary authorities in three districts of Western Uganda have put a temporary ban on selling pork products and pig movements over a reported outbreak of African Swine Fever in the region.

This all started from Rukiga constituency in Kigezi region, where the veterinary experts declared the outbreak in early October 2021.

The flare that sparked off the closure of pig markets started from Kamwezi sub-county which neighbors Rubaare, Rwentobo-Rwahi town Council, Kayonza among others areas in Ntungamo district before emerging in Bushenyi and Sheema respectively.

By the close of the weekend, all pork roasting points in Sheema and Bushenyi were all banned to contain the spread of the deadly disease.

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease affecting both domestic and feral swine of all ages. ASF is not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans but is a transboundary animal disease of great economic importance found in countries around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

It has no cure and no vaccine with mortality rate of up to 100%.

In a circular signed on 27th October,2021, Sheema district authorities temporarily slumped a ban on the slaughter and movement of pigs in and out of already affected areas.

According to Dr Joseph Amanya, District Veterinary Officer (DVO) Sheema, the deadly disease is suspected to have come from the neighboring district of Bushenyi currently detected in Kitagata sub-county.

Amanya says, samples have been summited to NADDEC lab Entebbe and a number of measures put in place to limit its wide spread.

“All movement in and out of pigs and slaughter in Shuuku, Bugongi, Kitagata T/C, Rugarama S/C, Kasaana should stop immediately until further notice. Farmers are encouraged to isolate all the sick pigs and carry out proper disposal of dead pigs and disinfect regularly and avoid visiting infected premises,” reads part of the letter.

Dr Amanya called upon the public to respond to the call and report all suspected cases in their areas to sub-county authorities for proper management.

The letter written by the DVO through the District Production Officer (DPO) was addressed to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) copied to the RDC Sheema, Chairman LCV, all LC III Chairpersons, Town Clerks, Sub-county Chiefs, Town Clerk and Sheema Municipality for proper implementation.

Away from pigs, Dr Amanya added that the district rapid response taskforce is studying suspected outbreak of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in areas of Kigarama sub-county for appropriate action.

Then in Bushenyi, Kabagarame, a popularly known venue for pork enjoyment was also suspended for two months following the outbreak of African Swine Fever in the district.

Kabagarame is one of the renowned places in western Uganda where people congregate every Saturday to enjoy pork and millet [karoo].

This is not the first time the pork business in Bushenyi has suffered a setback. It was first closed in June 2021 by the area Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Ms Jane Muhindo, being cited as one of the hot spots to the insurgence of Covid-19 since it attracts most revelers from DRC, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda.

Speaking to Moses Bugyendo, the Bushenyi Municipal Animal Husbandry Officer, Kabagarame will not be allowed to open starting from 1st Nov.2021 until two months elapse.

Bugyendo also cautioned all other pork joints within the municipality to close for two months as they keep studying the situation of swine fever spread.

“We expect the disease to have ceased by the end of two months so let’s remain patient for these few months,” says Bugyendo.

The Bushenyi District Veterinary department equally issued a notice banning all pork selling markets in the district.

The ban has been imposed in sub-counties of Kyeizoba, Ibaare, Bumbaire and Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality.

While most pig markets and sale of all pork products has been closed in most parts of Western districts, Dr Nabaasa Robinson, the In-charge of veterinary services in Mbarara City confirmed that the slaughtering of pigs and sale of pork in the city is still ongoing.

“In Mbarara, we don’t have yet but of course we are hearing that it is in Rukiga, Ntungamo, Rukungiri and maybe part of Bushenyi. Currently the markets are still open as we have not heard of any outbreak and people are slaughtering normally,” Nabaasa said.

He however says, they are still monitoring the situation to prevent the African Swine Fever spread.

“What we are doing is majorly restricting animals from already affected districts and doing surveillance but of course when one farm gets affected, we shall see how to control it but we have just put measures so that it doesn’t cross,” Nabaasa explained.

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Masindi district recruits 16 parish chiefs, 11 town agents for new administrative units

MASINDI – Masindi district local government has recruited 16 Parish Chiefs and 11 Town Agents to work in the new created sub-counties and town councils.

Masindi district local government approved five sub-counties and four town councils which came into operation this financial year.

The sub-counties include; Kijunjubwa, Kiruli, Nyantonzi, Labongo and Bikonzi while the town councils include; Kyatiri, Bulima, Kijunjubwa and Kabango.

Initially, Masindi district had five traditional sub-counties but currently the district has a total of 18 administrative units excluding the municipality.

Speaking during the district budget conference on Tuesday at the education hall in Masindi town, Phionah Sanyu, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Masindi explained that the recruited officials are awaiting deployment to where they’re supposed to work.

“This resulted into a shortfall of Shs 144 million as recruitment was not planned for under unconditional grant wage. A supplementary budget has been made,” said Sanyu.

Sanyu also told the meeting that the LC3 Chairpersons for the new created lower units are not yet on payroll due to lack of positions on the payroll and budget.

“This issue is being pursued with the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of public service,” added Sanyu.

Cosmas Byaruhanga, the Masindi district LCV Chairperson had earlier on told journalists that the district authorities have written to Ministry of Finance to create space on the system such that new staff members can be accommodated.

“Even if we have the money but when it comes to payment, there’s no space at the Ministry of Finance because the system is still recognizing the original five sub-counties. The Ministry of Public Service is working around the clock to make sure that they get information and give it to the Ministry of Finance such that they create space to effect the payment,” said Byaruhanga.

He called upon the Chairpersons and the Councillors from the new created administrative units to be patient noting that the issue is going to be sorted very soon.

“These units have just been operationalized. It wouldn’t be automatic for them to be in the system. They should just be patient because we are trying our level best,” he added.

The Chairpersons from the different new lower units have been complaining that none payment of their salaries is curtailing them from effectively executing their work.

The Councilors from the new created administrative units have also not yet started receiving their council emoluments and the funds for other activities since they’re not yet coded.

Sapline Balyebuga, the LC3 Chairperson, Kabango Town Council wants the government to expedite the process such that they can start receiving their salary.

“Everyday I spend my own money on fuel, airtime, and transport. We also have our own needs to fulfill. Staying without payment is indeed affecting us,” explained Balyebuga.

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National land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation policy in offing

KAMPALA – The government through the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development is finalizing the process of drafting the National Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy.

This was disclosed by the Assistant Commissioner, Policy Analysis in the Ministry, Harrisson Irumba, while opening the online and residential two days multi-stakeholders dialogue on responsible investment on land.

The dialogue held in Kampala was organized by German-Ugandan development cooperation (GIZ).

It brought together among other dignitaries, representatives of European Union and GIZ, Development partners, Academia, political and technical officers from both the central and local government.

Irumba, who represented the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development, Dorcas W.Okalany, said the National Land Acquisitions, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy will provide a framework for land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of affected persons and communities.

“The policy has been developed taking into account emerging issues and international best practice with regards to land acquisition including acquisition of land for investment purposes,” he said.

According to Irumba, the Ministry is also reviewing the Land Act, Cap 227; Land Acquisition Act, Cap 226; Registration of Titles Act, Cap 230; Survey Act among other laws to reforming a number of laws in the sector to cater for the emerging issues.

“We are also developing new laws such as the Uganda Land Commission law and the Valuation Law. All these laws have an impact on whether land for investment can be accessed, administered and managed,” he said.

Irumba added that the Ministry is also implementing the National Land Information System, which is operational in all our 22 Ministry Zonal Offices (MZOs) across the country.

“With the establishment of Ministry’s Zonal Offices, investors will be able to access land related services and information without going to the ministry headquarters as it used to be, which has improved on efficiency and effectiveness with regard to service delivery,” he stated.

Daniel Kirumira, the GIZ land management specialist said, in partnership with the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development, they are implementing the two projects namely; Responsible Land Policy in Uganda Project (RELAPU) and Improvement of Land Governance in Uganda (ILGU).

“The 11.9million Euros (about Shs.52b) Responsible Land Policy Project in Uganda which was operationalized in 2019 and runs up to 2023 is in Teso region in the districts of Soroti and Katakwi in Teso region but also Mityana, Mubende Kasanda and Gomba in the central region,” Kirumira added.

Kirumira explained that the project has operationalized what the National Land Policy and Land laws prescribe as avenues to secure tenure rights of rural communities in Uganda.

According to him, the impact of the projects is noticeable in the benefiting communities.

“Unlike customary land, where there are experiences from where Clearing Corporation of Options (CCOs) had been issued, the GIZ project in Greater Mubende was the first of its kind to document the rights of lawful and bonafide occupants on private Mailo land in Uganda region,” said Kirumira.

He further revealed that the project generated new experiences and lessons that are informing policy decisions in regard to Mailo land tenure in Buganda region.

Samuel Eriaku, the GIZ Technical Advisor said, more than 1,189 free certificates of customary land ownership have so far been issued to the vulnerable households in the four districts of Teso and Lango sub-regions, since the Responsible Land Policy Project Uganda (RELAPU) started in 2016.

“Of the 7,001 pieces of land mapped in Teso (Soroti and Katakwi districts) where the project started in 2016, vulnerable households including the widows and orphans have so far received 1,089 certificates,” said Eriaku.

Dokolo district has 572 pieces of land mapped of which more than 100 certificates have so far been issued since the project kicked off in Lango mid 2019.

Simon Peter Edoru Eku, the LCV Chairperson Soroti district, and the Ministry welcome this new project that is Promoting Responsible Governance of Investments in Land in Uganda.

He pledged to give it all the necessary support that is required during implementation.

“As we heard from the head of the component, the project is for five years, having started in 2019 and will end in 2023. We are almost half way through the project implementation and as leaders, we should support its implementation 100%,” he urged.

He also asked the Ministry to address the challenge of accessing land for investments by the local investors as well as building their capacity in managing the established investments in Uganda.

The responsible investment in land project aims at fostering investments on land that are productive, contribute to sustainable land management and respects the rights and needs of the local population, including vulnerable groups and women.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Ocan the National Project Manager at Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) underscored the need for the government to ensure that the investment on land should benefit everyone and not only the investors.

He pointed out that there is a need to follow the procedures for land acquisition processes, including resettlement and rehabilitation of affected communities and that the land use rights of the communities need also to be taken into account.

Measures to ensure responsible investment in land.

The government has, however, put in place measures which are policy, legal and administrative in nature to ensure that there is responsible investment on land.

One of such measures is the National Land Policy (2013) as a framework for administering and managing land and land-based resources in Uganda.

The policy also provides reforms geared towards having an efficient and effective land delivery system, which is a basis for poverty reduction, wealth creation and socio-economic transformation of the country.

The policy comprehensively articulates and addresses these and a variety of other land related issues, interests and policy objectives by harmonizing Uganda’s diverse needs for human settlements, economic diversity, production, use and conservation of natural resources.

Above all, the policy has a whole section on access to land for investment and prescribes how investment in land should be done responsibly.

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