Local leaders and residents of Arua district are up in arms following the ongoing clearance of Barifa Forest land.
The eucalyptus forest land lying adjacent to the National Forestry Authority-NFA offices that was previously cleared by General Salim Saleh to conduct the 2011 campaigns in West Nile was razed to ground level by a grader on Monday.
The move has attracted the attention of local leaders and residents, demanding to know why such contentious land is being cleared without their knowledge.
Nesmah Ocokoru, the Arua Hill division LC 3 chairperson, says she has received a lot of complaints from the public about the developments.
//Cue in…Its true there has been …
Cue out…our property jealously//
Bernard Atiku, the Ayivu County MP expressed similar concerns, saying any development on the contentious land should be done in a transparent manner to avoid suspicion of dubious and fraudulent acts, given what happened to the adjacent land in 2011.
Hilal Naseem, an environmental activist in Arua, says any suspicious moves relating to Barifa forest land could trigger public uproar and spark unrest.
The Arua Resident District Commissioner, Peter Debele also said he wasn't aware of the developments and advised concerned residents to seek answers from the National Forestry Authority.
Stephen Ndemere, the Arua NFA Sector Manager, said there is no need for public concern, saying the ongoing activities are part of NFA projects.
//Cue in…Actually the area which has …
Cue out…it's still NFA managed area //
In November 2010, several acres of Barifa forest land were cleared on the orders of General Salim Saleh to establish a regional campaign center for the 2011 general elections amidst public protests. The area is now under UPDF management.
A detach has since been setup to keep close watch over the land.