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Gulu Environment Officers Demand for Firearms

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Joyce Aryemo Latigo, the Gulu District Environment Officer, says they receive deaths from highly placed people and their relatives as they strive to investigate and halt wetland encroachment.
Aswa River Region Police Spokesman ASP Jimmy Patrick Okema - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Environmental officers in Gulu district are demanding to be armed to protect themselves from wetland encroachers.  

Joyce Aryemo Latigo, the Gulu District Environment Officer, says they receive deaths from highly placed people and their relatives as they strive to investigate and halt wetland encroachment. 

According to Latigo, they are threatened with guns, which is a serious setback to environmental conservation.

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Jimmy Patrick Okema, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson, says they have received any complaints from the environmental officers. He also revealed that police have stopped issuing firearms to civilians.  

Okema says the Environment Police Protection Unit – EPPU is available to handle such cases. 

Lyandro Komakech, the Gulu Municipal MP also expressed reservation of the proposal of arming environmental officers, saying such a solution is short-lived and may result into gun violence. 

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Lyandro called for the strengthening of the National Environment Act to harshly stampede offenders through issuance of restoration orders and prosecution of such culprits in order to preserve wetlands. 

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Several commercial and residents premises in Gulu have been erected on wetlands. The encroachment is visible on Pece stream, swamps in Layibi, Laroo and Bardege divisions respectively. 

Uganda has several policies regulating land use such as the National Environment Management Regulation 2000.  

Despite this statistics from the National Environment Management Authority- NEMA show that Wetlands are the most threatened ecosystem, with its coverage drastically reducing from 16.6 hectares in 1994 to 8.2 hectares in 2016.