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Hoima security committee halts give away of forest reserve land

FILE PHOTO: Kandanda Forest reserve

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Hoima District Security Committee has halted the allocation of Kandanda Forest reserve in Kyabigambire Sub County to private investors by the National Forestry Authority-NFA. The decision was reached in a community meeting held on Monday evening at Kyampaka village in Bulindi parish in Kyabigambire sub county.

The District Security Committee led by Hoima Resident District Commissioner-RDC, Samuel Kisembo rushed to Kyampaka, one of the villages adjacent to Kandanda Forest Reserve after clashes broke out between residents and workers deployed by unidentified investor.

Residents went up in arms after the workers reportedly slashed their crops leading to commotion in the area. They apprehended the six workers and led them to Bulindi police post.  The RDC questioned the manner, in which NFA leased the Forest Reserve to investors to plant trees.

He contends that NFA should have first considered the interests of the residents before allocating the forest reserve land to private investors. Kisembo explained that the residents should have been allocated 5 percent of the land as stipulated in the law.

He halted the exercise until the irregularities made by NFA officials are corrected.

Kadir Kirungi, the Hoima District LC 5 Chairperson, says residents who applied for the land in the forest reserve to plant trees were not considered yet they should have been given first priority. He says only three out of 162 people who applied to plant trees in the forest in Hoima including him were considered.

Pius Wakabi, the Bugahya county Member of Parliament, says NFA officials are only considering the interest of the investors at the expense of the local people.

Michael Kusuro, the Acting Range Manager Budongo systems admits that his juniors committed some irregularities that need to be corrected immediately.

He says section 15 of the NFA acts requires that the neighboring communities be given the first priority to manage the forest reserve under the collaborated forest Management.

He confirms that locals are entitled to 5 percent share of the forest land, which was never considered by his juniors.

Muhammad Irumba, the area LC 1 Chairperson, says NFA in conjunction with the investors deployed UPDF soldiers who harassed, tortured and arrested innocent people in the area.

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