Philips Illukol Lokwang, the Napore West County MP in Karenga District wondered why the University is willing to swap 500 acres for only 70 acres instead of negotiating to have the entire 243 acres of the NFA land to carter for their future development projects.
The education committee of parliament has questioned the proposed land swap
between Gulu University and the National Forest Authority – NFA.
The query arose during a fact-finding visit to the
institution following a motion tabled by the Bardege-Layibi MP, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi in parliament on 14 September 2021 seeking resolution of
Parliament to degazette part of Gulu Central Forest Reserve for the University
Faced with lack of land for expansion, Gulu University signed a memorandum of
understanding with NFA in 2012 to procure 500
acres of land at Pajengo Village, Purongo Sub-County in Nwoya District in exchange for 70 acres of land from the Gulu Central Forest
On April 3, 2020, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni directed
the then Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to degazette the land in question
to aid the University expansion. In spite of the University fulfilling its part of the deal, the Government
has not commenced the processes leading to the degazettement of part of the
sought a resolution of Parliament to compel the Ministry of Water and
Environment to urgently implement the Presidential directive guided by Sections 7 and 8 of
the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act.
On Wednesday, the Education Committee of parliament led by their Chairperson
John Twesigye Ntamuhira, Bunyaruguru County questioned why the University has
committed to offering up to 500 acres in exchange for only 70 acres of land that
bears no sign of a forest.
Philips Illukol Lokwang, the Napore West County
MP in Karenga District wondered why the University is willing to swap 500 acres
for only 70 acres instead of negotiating to have the entire 243 acres of the NFA land to carter for their future development
//Cue in..."My worry or my….”
Cue out… land for expansion.”//
Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu County MP in Kalungu
District grilled the NFA officials for
rendering a disservice in the MOU claiming
to have a forest reserve yet on the ground, there is nothing to the effect.
//Cue in..."NFA, you are….”
Cue out… where is the forest.”//
Silas Aogon, the Kumi Municipality MP observed
that the swap deal is questionable on the basis that the University had already
constructed on 70 acres of land that bears no trees with visible economic impact.
//Cue in..."Government has been….”
Cue out… from such forest.”//
Rev. Fr. Charles Onen, the Pece-Laroo Division MP,
where the University
and the Gulu Central Forest Reserve are
located observed that the committee has effected its mandate and should guide
the University to pursue the land matter further.
//Cue in..."We came here….”
Cue out… for the same thing.”//
In response, Jimmy Ouna,
the NFA Regional Supervisor for Northern Uganda, said the land in question is prime and has grown in
value. He also noted that the 173 acres remaining is home to staff quarters
and private tree planters who still have running licenses.
Since being founded in 2002, Gulu University has
been struggling to find
land for expansion. Part of its structures like the Faculties of Agriculture and Environment,
Medicine and Library among others seat
on the forest
reserve land in
Pece-Laroo Division, Gulu City.
The Committee also visited Nwoya to physically see the
availability of the 500 acres of land
offered by the university. They demanded District Resolutions authorizing
the swapping of the land for the purposes of degazetting and gazetting a forest
reserve in Gulu and Nwoya respectively.
Gulu University has exponentially grown with over
4,500 students as of
2019, necessitating it to establish campuses in Lira, Kitgum and Hoima.