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Tree uprooted for Busega-Mpigi expressway
Mabuye, Katende in Mpigi district was stripped of its Nabukalu tree to allow for the construction of the Busega-Mpigi expressway. PHOTO/NEW VISION

In Mpigi district, the Nabukalu tree at Mabuye, Katende has been removed to allow construction of the Busega-Mpigi expressway to begin.

The Nabukalu tree at Mabuye, Katende in Mpigi district has been extracted to allow the commencement of the construction of the Busega-Mpigi expressway.

This came after a court ruling dismissed a case in which the tree caretakers were demanding Sh500m in compensation from Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to appease their gods.

The extraction that was done at around 8 pm on Thursday was led by the China Civil Engineering Construction Company who brought the excavator and uprooted the tree.

The owners were, however, not allowed a chance to first remove their belongings that were under the tree and many of them who looked on in disappointment was overheard lamenting in disbelief as their cultural site was demolished.

Initially, UNRA had offered to compensate the tree caretakers with a sum of sh150m but this was denied by the group saying that they needed about sh500m to help them appease their gods into relocating to a new area.

“The Lugave clan has stopped UNRA from cutting down the tree without compensation of sh500m as compensation for allowing the sh300 billion Busega-Mpigi expressway to pass through their piece of land that has the tree,” Gen Katumba Wamala said Thursday. 

“One of the clan members, Hussein Katamba also ran to court challenging UNRA’s move to draw plans of constructing a road to go through his piece of land which also has the spiritual tree named Nabukalu,” he added.

the Busega-Mpigi expressway
Busega-Mpigi Expressway construction works began in May 2020 and will be completed in May this year, marking the completion of the two-year project; however, only 15% of the work has been completed so far. FILE PHOTO

The court in Mpigi on Thursday however, ruled that the group should only be given a sum of sh4.6m and not sh500m as requested.

Justice Anthony Oyuko Ojok ruled that the justification was not evidence-based to show that the area housing the tree has been a cultural site for prayers since the 1800s.

“The evidence(provided) in no way proved that the said land was a cultural site belonging to the Lugave clan and had been in existence since the 1800s,” the judge ruled.

In addition, he revealed that the plaintiff did not come along with any officials from the said Buganda kingdom to confirm the existence of the cultural site from the Lugave clan, nor did he bring any of the people who are said to always go to the site for healing.

“The plaintiff didn’t bring any official from Buganda kingdom to confirm the existence of the cultural site from the Lugave clan, nor did he bring any of the people who are said to always be going to the site for healing. It was only at locus that court found some individuals who were said to be interested in testifying yet the same were never witnesses during the hearing of the case.”

“This land is individually owned by the plaintiff for his traditional purposes as a Lugave clan member. The plaintiff also failed to prove that the tree was indeed a recognizable cultural site,” the judge added.

The Justice further directed that since the same court cannot also hear from spirits, it is only based on viable evidence adduced before it.

As a result, Justice Oyuko ruled that the claim of shs500 million is non-justifiable but rather a gluttonous of the plaintiff to want to reap from what he didn’t sow.

“The defendant is hereby allowed to pay the plaintiff the compensatory amount of shs4.6million due to him over the said land and if he refuses to take the said money, let it be deposited in court. The defendant can proceed with road construction over the land.”

Meanwhile, the Busega-Mpigi Expressway road construction works started in May 2020 and are expected to be completed in May this year to mark the two-year duration however, works still stand at only 15 per cent.

Like it is with the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, this expressway will also be tolled with motorists paying money based on the size of their vehicles.