The National Forestry Authority has lost
Over 40,000 hectares of the central forest reserve land in Kayunga district to
private developers, the Bamugemereire led Commission heard on Tuesday
The affected reserves are Bajo Central Forest
Reserve in Bale Sub County, Wamale and Kiula Central Forest Reserves in
Galilaaya Sub County, Namawanyi or Namananga and Karagara falls Central Forest
Reserve in Kangulumira Sub county.
Leo Twinomuhangi, the NFA Policy and Planning Coordinator
told the Commission that in 2017, several developers approached NFA with tittles
they had acquired for land in Kayunga district.
The land tittles were issued in the names of private
individuals in February and March 2015. Those who acquired the land are Andrew
Baguma with 42.7 hectares, Solomon Kayizi 98.4090 hectares, Mubalaka Muwumba
486.0160 hectares, Peter Katende 313.6330 hectares, Burnett Mutyaba
122.6640 hectares, Mark Bulamu 82.5500 hectares, Geofrey Kyabihende 82.6530
hectares and Yahya Baduzi with a maximum 39,209 hectares.
Others are Winfred Kajeke, Wonderful Property
Consultants and the family of the late Yakobo Wahangane among others. Twinomuhangi says that the forests have been destroyed.
He says that the encroachers used heavy truck
machinery like bulldozers to destroy the forests, adding that those behind
the destruction appear to be more powerful than those claiming ownership.
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Twinomuhangi says that thousands of hectares of the land are
being used for sugar cane plantation said to belong to Kayunga Sugar factory.
He says that the reserves in Bale, have now been replaced with Sugar cane
He told the Commission that although the plantations are
fronted as belonging to individuals and small companies, the old sugar
factories seem to be the ones behind the plantations.
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Twinomuhangi says that in 2015, NFA learnt about some
individuals who had acquired tittles over the reserves. They wrote to Kayunga
District Land asking them to deal with the illegal land tittles that had been
issued over the land.
He says that their plea was not granted and instead developers
came to them in 2017 flagging tittles, saying they wanted to develop their
Twinomuhangi says that Lands office did not listen to NFA. He
further accused Kayunga District Lands of issuing tittles without conducting proper
surveys of the land and search to establish encumbrances.
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Twinomuhangi told the Commission that in 2017, the Authority
decided to bar the developers from occupying the land. They however opened a
case against him and later NFA in Mukono court.
Consequently, they acquired an interim order.
The first one restrained Twinomuhagi from accessing the land and interfering
with the activities of the developers. Later, they acquired an order retraining
NFA from accessing the land.
Twinomuhangi accused the court of also playing a part in the loss
of the natural resources. He says that while investigating the case, court paid
a visit to the site and was exposed to the boundaries but issued orders in
favor of the developers.
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The Commission Chairperson, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire
also decried the manner in which court conducted itself. She wondered how court
could issue an injunction to an individual blocking the Authority from
executing its mandate in such a manner.
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Meanwhile, the former Kitimba Sub county Chief,
Farida Namunsi, who acted on the lands alongside the area land board, confessed
that the board didn’t conduct a proper search of the land before recommending
that it be issued to developers.
Namunsi couldn’t explain under what mandate she worked as
part of the land board and instead apologized. She however revealed
that she had received a communication from the then Resident District
Commissioner, Yahya Were asking her to handle the matter with urgency.
She says Were told her that Kayunga Sugar works
needed the land urgently and that state house had high interest in the matter.
She also revealed that a gentleman named Emmanuel Ssekimpi came with Shillings 500,000
as facilitation for the work from the RDC.
Namunsi used the money to tour a few areas of the land alongside
other land committee members and gave each of the four members 100,000 Shillings.