AT last, the 15 year old land conflict pitting villagers against the National Ranch Company Limited (NARCO) in Kagera Region has been put to rest, thanks to intervention by the Minister for Livestock and Fishery Development, Mr Luhaga Mpina.
Acting on directives by President John Magufuli, the minister instructed that all villagers within some premises of NARCO ranch in the region should remain and continue with agriculture and livestock keeping activities.
President Magufuli had previously directed government authorities not to evict villagers in conserved areas which are no longer vital for preservation of wild animals and ranches, among others.
Minister Mpina made the remarks recently when addressing residents who had been earmarked to vacate some areas within the ranch, which however has not been developed by developers who acquired them from NARCO.
“The investors who acquired the land have failed to develop them and pay requisite taxes as per the contract signed between them and the government. As such, the villagers should not be evicted from the land,” the minister stressed.
Speaking during public rallies at Buhale village which boarders Misenyi, Rutolo and Kagoma ranches, Minister Mpina directed that villagers in Kankuyu, Bugango, Bweju, Gubal, Mishambya, Kiobuheke, Buyegelegele, Chobokwe and Rutolo should not be evicted.
The Minister instructed the Acting General Manager of NARCO, Mr Masele Mipiwa, to work on demarcation of new boundaries of the ranches within one month.
“You should also review all contracts entered between NARCO and investors to ensure that all pieces of land which are not developed are allocated to villagers who are in need of land,” he instructed.
The minister was equally angered that some investors have failed to pay taxes and develop ranches allocated to them and yet many villagers lack plots for rearing their cattle.
“There are some investors who have been operating since 2007 but have not paid a single penny in taxes and have not developed their ranches, and yet they are busy dragging the government in courts, we can’t tolerate this,” he declared.
Minister Mpina stressed that it is better for the investors to own small pieces of land which they can develop rather than hoarding large chunks of land at the expense of local population.
Speaking at the occasion, Misenyi District Commissioner (DC), Colonel Denis Mwila, assured the minister that all directives will be taken into account and implemented effectively to ensure that investors pay requisite taxes and develop their ranching plots.