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Activists reject Bugoma Forest Land survey report


Activists reject Bugoma Forest Land survey report

Save Bugoma Forest Association members after the news conference

Save Bugoma Forest Campaigners are determined to re-start a process of petitioning the government to re-think its position on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve give away and land grab.

This comes after a survey report on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve land finally came out recently after 3 years.

The activists who defend Bugoma Central Forest Reserve from land grabbing expressed dismay that a survey report as directed by cabinet to open up the boundaries of forest provided no definitive findings on whether the Hoima Sugar Factory encroached on Bugoma Forest land. The group says the land survey report has no conclusion as per the terms of reference.

Dickens Kamugisha, the chairperson of Save Bugoma Forest Campaign says that the report relies on illegally obtained certificates of registrations to reach a finding that Hoima Sugar Factory is utilizing land leased to it by the Omukama of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom without determining whether that land is within the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve gazette area.

Kamugisha, also the Executive Director of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) says that because the report is unfortunately seeking to validate the illegal land grab of Bugoma Forest, the activists will this week re-embark on the process afresh.

“We will again ask communities to sign another petition, to be sent to the president to clearly express our dissatisfaction with this report and demand that actually another independent survey is caried out with specific instructions, to ensure that the report identifies the specific encroachment, ……we shall still engage the ministry of lands, engage the Ministry of Water, engage NFA to make sure that even a few things that are positive in this, at least they do implementation because they have already identified a number of people who were awarded by Bunyoro Kingdom, hectares of land given to individuals,” Kamugisha said.

Kamugisha further expresses dismay that the government rejected the suggestion to consider services of independent surveyors instead of having all the ministry of lands and that of Water and Environment.

He said despite the efforts to be part of the surveying and boundary opening process as observers, the Save Bugoma Forest Campaigners as stakeholders were denied the opportunity.

“We wrote to the ministry of lands, we wrote to the ministry of water and environment, were wrote to NFA demanding that we should be party to the group, that we should be allowed to hire our independent surveyors who could be on the team, I tell you we were ignored , and if you look at this report they tell you that they met with different stakeholders, the major ones they are talking about are the RDCs, DPCs who have been harassing us, harassing the community not say anything,’ so at the end of the day they wanted this report for a specific purpose not for the public good”-Kamugisha noted

Godfrey Twesigye, the Executive Director Water and Environmental Media Network Uganda (WEMNET) called on the government to urgently address the gaps in the survey and boundary opening report and make positive recommendations for the conservation of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.

“we call for availability of a conclusive finding on whether Hoima Sugar Limited encroached on the Bugoma Forest land, we wish to task surveyors to make a conclusive finding as per the Terms of Reference regarding Hoima Sugar’s encroachment on Bugoma Forest Reserve land because the report does not address that issue, the Survey report must also indicate whether the 41000 hectares of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve land is still intact and if it is not where did it go, who owns it and how did they obtain it”-Twesigye stressed

Hassan Mugenyi, Chairperson of the Save Bugoma Forest Campaign local task force stated that “corruption must be rooted out to protect our forests. Those illegally obtaining land titles must be held accountable to preserve Bugoma Forest”.

Lamla Asasira , a neighbor of the forest added, “Bugoma Forest is vital for our environment. Any attempts to encroach upon it must be stopped to protect our ecosystem”.



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