During the meeting, MPs derided the ministry for failing in its mandate to protect the forest reserve and noted that government had left the fight to foreigners including European Union Ambassadors who petitioned parliament and the President to intervene and save the forest.
and Environment Minister, Sam Cheptoris has accepted responsibility for failing
to stop the illegal encroachment on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.
He was speaking in a meeting with the Natural Resources
Committee of Parliament together with officials from the Ministry and Agencies
under the Water and Environment sector on Wednesday. The meeting was called to discuss the performance and challenges of the sector
in the 2020/2021 financial year.
The encroachment of Bugoma Forest has dominated
the headlines both locally and internationally since it was leased to Hoima
Sugar by the Bunyoro Kingdom last year for sugar cane growing. Environmental
activists have condemned the land giveaway. The National Forestry Authority
(NFA) has since dragged Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and Hoima Sugar to court over the
During the meeting, MPs derided the ministry for failing in
its mandate to protect the forest reserve and noted that government had left
the fight to foreigners including European Union Ambassadors who petitioned
parliament and the President to intervene and save the forest.
In his response, Cheptoris told the committee that the ministry had done everything
in its power to save the forest and even deployed police to halt the
destruction. He however, says court ordered police to vacate the forest land.
He also said that he told NEMA to halt the approval of the Environmental Impact
Assessment EIA for over a year until Hoima Sugar threatened legal action.
//Cue in: “Mr. Chairman……………..”
Cue out: “…………..our best.”//
The minister also stated that the legal suit against Hoima Sugar by government
was defeated when an official from the lands ministry testified stating that
the land that was leased wasn’t part of the forest reserve.
Tom Okello, the
Executive Director National Forestry Authority made a damning revelation when
he told the committee that aerial images show that Hoima Sugar has encroached
on part of the forest outside the permitted zones as stipulated in the
Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate.
The Rwampara County MP, Charles Ngabirano chided the
ministry for ignoring the fact that the EIA was being flouted.
//Cue in: “It is just…………”
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The Buliisa Woman MP, Norah Bigirwa asked the ministry to take action and halt
destruction of the forest. She wondered whether the minister was in charge of
//Cue in: “You as…………”
Cue out: “…………….answers.”//
The minister conceded that the ministry had failed to enforce the EIA and noted
that NEMA should have taken action.