Panic as Gov`t Moves to Close Market, Evict Occupants of Apaa Township

There is panic among residents of Apaa Township bordering Adjumani and Amuru districts as the government moves to close their market and the township. Last week, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja announced that the government will close down Apaa market within a month’s time. 

She directed the occupants of Apaa Township to vacate the area within three months period ending 15th May this year or risk facing forceful eviction. The Prime Minister explained that the government has set aside Shillings 2.5 billion to compensate the affected households, saying those with a national identity card would receive Shillings 10 million, 20 iron sheets, and 20 bags of cement while those without national identity cards would receive Shillings 2million for relocation.

She explained that the decision reached by the Cabinet was meant to preserve the environment and wildlife. The residents have expressed fear over their impending eviction, saying they cannot find another alternative source of livelihood. Onek Atunya Javis, 82, an elder in the area, says that the government’s decision is wrong and will affect the growth and development of the area. He maintains that Apaa Township is Acholi`s ancestral land and has neither been a game reserve nor a forest reserve.

Grace Lanyero, a businesswoman in the area, who says she was born in Apaa, says that they are unhappy and shocked by the government’s pronouncement over their looming eviction. She wonders where the people will be relocated to or whether the planned compensation can take care of their families.  

Vicky Alanyo has asked the government to rethink her decision and consider the area for human settlement over animals and the forest.  

Alex Atine Odong, the Chairperson of Apaa Baganda Business Community urges the government to degazette the area for human settlement noting that there are more than 25,000 people doing business in the area.   

Francis Owor, the representative of local leaders in Apaa says that there are more than 135,000 people drawn from 37 villages. He explains that the community is crying out to the government since the resolution greatly impacts their livelihoods.

On Sunday our reporter visited the area and saw a number of developments including the ongoing construction of new permanent housing structures, and businesses, which are majorly for farm produce and charcoal.

Earlier on Sunday evening, while conducting interviews with the residents from Apaa Market, our reporter was arrested and detained by the police at Apaa and Zoka Police Posts for more than two hours on allegations of failure to see permission from security.

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