Two months ago, Rtd Brig Kasirye Gwanga grabbed newspaper headlines after burning a grader he found at his daughter’s land in Lubowa on Entebbe Road. An eyewitness reported that a furious Brig Gwanga arrived at the contested land after a businessmen identified as Hajj Musa Ssempebwa, Aloysius Sseruwagi and Hasan Ssemujju, had hired a tractor to level part of the land. The maverick Brig doused the grader with a jerrycan of fuel and set it ablaze.
The two acres of land on Block 269 is part of a chunk owned by the descendants of Yusuf Ssuuna Kiweewa who was son to King Mwanga but on which multiple claimants have a stake.
On the same Block is a proposed multibillion government referral hospital whose groundbreaking was witnessed by President Museveni on June 1. The project has since failed to take off because of the land wrangles. The financiers of the project have reportedly pulled out, awaiting the settlement of the disputes.
But not all of us have the temperament or the wherewithal to react like Brig Gwanga when we find out that a neghbour is illegally encroaching on our property. According to Jeff Tumusiime, an urban planner, there are so many ways a neighbour can invade your land. “They can either keep sneaking up a few feet of land or use for farming or dump waste in it without your consent or overtly claim it is theirs,” Tumusiime explains. He observes that any kind of invasion should be dealt with as soon as it is discovered to avoid bigger complications.
Tumusiime urges that it is important to let your neighbour know that the property is yours and that they have no rights to it.
“Sometimes the neighbour might be fuzzy of the true ownership of the property and all they need is that direction.
But it does not hurt to always have your papers in order to sort out such disputes before they get out of hand,” he adds. Unfortunately, sometimes an invader needs more than just a neighbourly discussion to settle the matter. If the talk with your neighbour has been fruitless, you will have to agree to pay for a survey to establish the true owner of the piece of land in dispute. In case the survey remains contentious it is advisable to talk to a lawyer who will handle the matter on your behalf.
Henry Kyarimpa, a lawyer explains that some invasion might not actually involve land per say but things such as a tree root that grows in the wrong direction, overhanging branches that inconveniently drop leaves on the wrong side of the fence or animals grazing in the wrong property. He says these are matters that can be handled with proper mediation, however sometime people can be stubborn necessitating legal intervention.
“Recently, I had to have a court order to compel my client’s neighbour to cut off branches from an avocado tree that were too close to his bedroom window. The funny bit is that the neighbour would still insist on claiming the avocadoes from those branches without taking the responsibility of raking up the leaves too,” Kyarimpa narrates.
But the most annoying form of invasion can be when neighbours use your land as road. Tumusiime explains that in planned neighbourhoods there are clearly demarcated roads but in case one finds themselves in this fix the two options are either mediation with a view to sell that piece of land or litigation to block the road.