Kibaale District Leadership Calls for Calm between NFA and People in Forest Reserves
By Muganzi Vincent
Over the years many residents of Kibaale District living in and neighboring Kagombe and Nyakarongo Forest Reserves among others have pointed fingers at National Forest Authority Officials and Enforcers accusing them of harassment and violation of Human Rights which is against the Law.
With the hunger to quell the prevailing situation and rift between the two parties, the District Chairperson Godfrey Muhonge Kasanga caused a meeting that saw the District leadership, NFA team, UPDF, DPC, Kibaale District Land Board, District Councilors, Sub County Leadership of the affected persons and some Victims attend the District Council. During the meeting Muhonge expressed his concern over the growing life threatening situation and said peace needs to prevail. He said he has received many complaints in line with mistreatment of residents by NFA and UPDF which include money extortion, illegal arrests and imprisonment of residents among others. The Chairperson said many of these people are allowed to encroach onto the Forest reserves in the name of farming by the very officials assigned with the responsibility of preserving the reserves but in the end they beat them up claiming they encroached on the reserves which he termed as being ill mannered.
When the grieved victims were allowed to present, they said that they acquired the land through the rightful procedures as were guided by Kibaale District Board decades ago, and following constant evictions and disturbances by NFA enforcement team a group of the grieved people went to court for assistance.Court issued a court order with 128 names of the affected persons directing NFA to leave the 128 persons live where they are until the case is resolved. But according to the complainants the Court Order has not been honored.
The NFA Sector Manager Kagadi Boaz Basigirenda said the 128 persons are known and will be left at peace, but those impersonating themselves will not be entertained and with that he tasked the said victims to stop presenting other persons to represent those missing of the 128. Boaz expressed his stand saying after restoring most of the parts of the Forest Reserves that had been encroached on by residents he will not look on as the same practice resumes. He said boundary demarcations equivalent to10km of Nyakarongo Forest Reserve have been opened and the same will be done with other Reserves when resources are available to create room for development.
Following the heated debate the Deputy RDC Caroline Kashaija Muyambi advised that all the grieved persons submit copies of their documents from Court to the RDC’s office and the District will find legal technical people to help in interpreting the Court rulings as they schedule another locust meeting. This came as a result of other persons (over 1000) claiming they are being left out yet they were included on the court order as miscellaneous. She further tasked all parties to keep harmony as the District and Court mitigate.