Amuru Land Grab: The Legacy of Atiak Sugar Factory

Today on the 23rd October 2020 President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni commissioned Atiak Sugar Factory. This is not without consequences. The industrial enterprise has cost two thousands citizens their lands.

It has been years since the 11th December 2014. There been reports that the Madhvani Group have used land for big sugar-cane plantations, which are the producers for the Atiak Factory. This has been the reason for the land grabbing and forced evictions of the Acholi. The Madhvani Group established their Amuru Sugar Works who was getting 40,000 hectares of land.

The state will proclaim the amount of people working there and families, which is supposed to participating in the enterprise. They are only proclaiming the great things. However, not telling the costs in Amuru district or amount of forced evictions. Neither, addressing the bailouts of the investor. Who is behind the Sugar Factory either.

Today, that should not be forgotten. People have died in protests over the years. There been naked protests and MPs arrested over this. Therefore, the Atiak Sugar Factory has created issues. These should not be forgotten in the starting of production at the factory.

The factory is partly owned by the state and Horyal Investment Holdings Company Limited. Atiak Sugar factory located in Gem Farm, Atiak sub-county, Kilak County, in Amuru District. In Okidi North there are residents who said their was kicked out by the building of the factory and the land. The total of people in articles mentioned is about 80 people. As the Atiak Factory and its estate covers about 16,000 hectares of land. There been speculation of about 80 people thrown out of their lands needing redress for losing their land.

Therefore, there are plenty of scandals in the building of this factory. That they didn’t clear the legalities before the Madhvani Group or Horyal Investment Holdings got their land. This should have been fixed before the citizens was thrown away from their land without any compensation becoming Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in camps. That has happen in this regard, but the President only wants to praise for the industrial enterprise itself.

This factory needs to be remembered for all the folks who lost their land by the state and foreign investors who got it. Because, this wasn’t just a small token and building a factory somewhere. No, this was forcing an industry into an area. Bailing out an investor (Horyal) at least once, maybe twice in the years since 2016. Also, giving land cheaply to Madhvani Group to produce sugar-cane. Therefore, this isn’t a success, but a depressing move into modernity and producing of sugar.

It isn’t sweet, but it is instead bitter. Peace.

Opinion: NRM, It is hard to see Middle-Income Status coming quickly!

He explained that the NRM manifesto is anchored in Vision 2040 and the second National Development Plan. It commits to deliver Ugandans into middle income status and to ensure sustainable development” (Mubiru, 2018).

Well, it is that time of the year. To prove the National Resistance Movement (NRM), that their empty promises. Because when you collect the news together. It is easy to see how things doesn’t add up. If the NRM was on their way to sustainable development, like Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda talked about earlier last week. Then all of the news coming wouldn’t fit. The narrative cannot be growth and development, when all of these issues are happening at the same time. It doesn’t fit. The glove has to fit the hand. The three things that doesn’t add up is the missing funds for the Presidents own Village Poverty Program, relief food for Karamoja and also a missing sugar factory.

Village Poverty Program:

State House has said it needs at least Shs 5bn to roll out the model village poverty alleviation initiative by President Yoweri Museveni. In the request contained in the Ministry of Presidency’s policy statement and budget estimates for 2018/2019, State House said the existing Shs 1bn budget for the project is too little and therefore a 500 percent increase is vital. The current Shs 1bn has only managed to establish small scale commercial agricultural farms in 21 model villages. The country, according to Electoral Commission of 2016 data, has 59,700 villages” (Okello, 2018).

Donate relief food:

The government of China has donated food aid worth $5 million (about Shs 18bn) to the World Food Programme (WFP) to support a feeding programme for vulnerable groups threatened by malnutrition in the Karamoja sub-region. More than 2000,000 people mostly school going children, infants and mothers are threatened by malnutrition in Karamoja according to official figures” (Lyatuu, 2018).

No existent Sugar Factory:

It is five years, since Atiak Sugar Factory under Haryal investment Holdings Limited was rolled out in Amuru District, to commence sugar production, but has since stalled, leaving a number of sugar cane farmers stranded. “The people shifted from food crops with hope to earn from sugar cane. Out growers are now worried that the factory will not take off in time to fully untilise the 4,000 acres planted,” reads part of their petition. Kilak North MP, Anthonu Akol who read out the petition to the Speaker said that the farmers are stuck with no factory to sell their sugarcane and questioning why the minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, sold to them hot air” (Kyeyune, 2018).

All of these issues shouldn’t be at this state, if the state was seriously developing and on the way to Middle-Income status. There are so many issues that is missing, not only the ghosts and the added debt ratio in the budgets. This is all minor measures in the bigger picture, but it proves the lack of governance and accountability, when the state can grab land in Amuru district, but never deliver the promised the factory. As this been going on for years.

That the middle income cannot be fulfilled when the village poverty is so prevalent, that the scale is not fitting the needs. You know that the state lacks resources and well-funded plans to even achieve this. The President should have made sure and ensured the progress and at the planning stages, it this is his program, to be sure about the right amount and needed facilitation to deliver to the needed villages. That is apparently a mixed bag wooh-ha and nonsense.

Last but not least, is the donating of food to Karamoja, which in it self a sign of lack of progress. When your not able to meet the needs of your population and have good enough agricultural policies and output to feed yourself and your own kind. You know that the Middle Income Status is far-fetched, when this is still an issue. You know there are miles afar from the promise land. That the NRM and the President is clearly not delivering. There is no excuse in the book, that can fix the grandest issues of not being able to feed all communities and districts of Uganda. You know they are far from Middle Income, when China has to donate food to you….

Enough of the nonsense. Peace.

Reference:

Kyeyune, Moses – ‘Acholi sugarcane growers seek Parliament help over stalled factory’ (16.05.2018) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Acholi-sugarcane-growers-seek-Parliament-help-stalled-factory/688334-4565238-ueostj/index.html

Lyatuu, Justus – ‘China donates relief food to Karamoja’ (19.05.2018) link: http://observer.ug/news/headlines/57707-china-donates-relief-food-to-karamoja.html

Mubiru, Apollo – ‘NRM Manifesto: The road to modernity’ (18.05.2018) link: https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1477948/road-modernity

Okello, Dickens H. – ‘Shs5Bn Needed for Museveni’s Village Poverty Alleviation Program’ (21.05.2018) link: http://chimpreports.com/shs5bn-needed-for-musevenis-village-poverty-alleviation-program/