News and Views

Police block Lukwago rally

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By Eddie Ssejjoba

The police on Sunday blocked the Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago from addressing a crowd near an eviction site in Mengo.

Lukwago opposed the eviction of lorry drivers and vendors from the Kalittunsi Lorry Park along Katwe Road in Kampala and blasted police commanders who had deployed heavily at the site.

He reasoned that the eviction was illegal and carried out on Sunday, a nonworking day to intentionally block victims from seeking going to court.

About 630 drivers, operators and vendors have been operating from the park located on Plot 5-9 opposite Freedom Square were thrown out on Sunday after Kassim Ssesimba, a city businessman claimed ownership of the land.

Lukwago toured the site and addressed the press but was blocked from walking towards a cheering crowd. The police had chased people from the site and feared that addressing them would bring commotion in the place.

A scuffle ensued as the police tried to force Lukwago into his car, but refused saying it had no fuel. He was later ordered to use a waiting police truck, which resisted for over 40 minutes. He was later driven towards the city as people cheered him.

The eviction exercise started at about 8.00am and was carried out by Moses Kirunda, a court broker, assisted by over 100 well armed police personnel commanded by the Kampala North Regional Police Commander, Steven Tanui and Sam Omara, the in-charge operations.

The bailiffs and their agents beat up some drivers and vendors who resisted the exercise. Many lost personal items including Gloria Nakalanzi who claimed to have been beaten and her cash stolen by stick swaying mercenaries.

Men fenced off the place originally occupied by Kampala Tipper and Lorry Owners Operators Group Limited who opposed a high court order of May 8, signed by a registrar of the land division.

The police however said they acted on an order, which stated that the park had been decreed to Ssesimba in civil suit number 319 of 2011. It directed the bailiffs ‘to remove the said defendants (drivers), their agents, or servants from the said property and put plaintiff in possession of the said property’.

The order also commended for ‘the arrest of defendants, their agents or any other person who may obstruct this lawful execution and produce him/them to the court with convenient speed’.

But Lukwago who was sweating and looked cheeky of the police orders to stop walking said the eviction was illegal since it was being implemented over the weekend and termed the police as ‘hopeless’ for allegedly enforcing an illicit document.

He said that President Yoweri Museveni had initiated and fought for the passing of the land bill and had vowed to protect tenants from harassment and illegal evictions, yet ‘this was being implemented with his knowledge’.

He blasted police commanders saying they had bowed to ‘mafias’ in the city who were grabbing people’s land and property on pretext of development.

Lukwago also exchanged words with Omara and accused him of conspiracy but the officer shot back saying the Mayor had turned the matter into a political issue and ‘wanted to be seen as working for the people’.

“You want to dramatize everything, you rush everywhere you hear of confusion, but since you are a lawyer why don’t you oppose this in court,” he shot back.

Tanui said that court had given them two alternative days of Saturday and Sunday to implement the eviction given the location of the site, its size and traffic flow.

“We decided to do it on Sunday, we have done it professionally but the Lord Mayor does not want peace in the city, he is not supposed to interfere with court orders,” he stated.

Frank Ssegawa, a member of the park security committee said police camped at the site two days earlier but the drivers refused to leave but ‘ambushed them on Sunday.

According to Ssegawa, the matter was still in court and everyone was surprised over the eviction claims. He said they had rejected a proposal to relocate them to Lweza along Entebbe Road.

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