Tension is running high among the community surrounding Hill Road Public School in Masaka City because of the impending threats of demolition by claimants of the school land. Sitting on top of Bwala Hill in the Kimanya-Kabonera division, this government-aided school has distinguished itself as a premier performer within the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program, earning accolades across the nation.
However, its population of 3,504 pupils is apparently on the verge of being displaced as claimants threaten to demolish the school to pave the way for private investment.
Sarah Nankyanzi, the Chairperson of the Hill Road Public School Management Committee, reveals a private claimant she identifies as James Taylor purports to have acquired the land from the Indian Association of Uganda, the previous proprietors of the school.
According to Nankyanzi, Taylor has already served the school with the notice of eviction to pave the way for the construction of a Hotel, despite having in place a running lease in the name of Masaka Municipal Council. She says that this is the second time such claims have been brought up, saying that they threaten the operations of the school and its development prospects.
She says that they are going to protest the impending takeover of the school land, which she says was erroneously disposed of by the previous Masaka District Land Board. Nankyanzi says they can’t afford to lose the school, which has served the biggest percentage of low-income earning parents in the area.
Joseph Ssenzoga, the Chairperson of Soweto Cell in Masaka City, says that the school land has gradually been parceled by the previous leadership of Masaka Municipal Council who connived with the area land committees. According to him, the parents and a section of leaders previously foiled the takeover of the same land after they established that it had a running lease, wondering how another transaction was approved.
He says they are considering petitioning the Ministries of Education, and of Lands and Urban Development to intervene and cancel the title, threatening that should they fail, they will be left with no alternative but to mobilize for a mass protest to protect the community school.
Denis Lukanga Majwala, the former Katwe-Butego Division Chairperson raises suspicions of the validity of the certificates of the ownership that the claimants possess.
According to him, the former Masaka Municipal Council, which was the custodian of public assets in the area, lost several of its land titles to unscrupulous transactions and the connivance of some technical persons.
He prefers that a general inquiry be conducted on the whereabouts of public assets in Masaka City to ascertain their current status of ownership.
Vincent Okrutu, the Masaka City Town Clerk, indicates that they are currently still doing a search for documents pertaining to the status of the school. He however indicates that school will remain intact despite the threats.