By witnessradio.org Team
Hoima – Uganda – the Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom has once again leased out another part of Bugoma Forest to another investor, witnessradio.org has learnt. The Bugoma Forest is a protected tropical forest and covers an area of 401 square kilometres (155 square miles/40,100 hectares).
This is happening even before the first case about the lease out of 6000 hectares of part of the forest for sugar cane growing isn’t disposed of.
witnessradio.org‘s investigations indicate that the kingdom has leased out another 2000 hectares of land to a one Mustafa Zayidi for Sugar cane growing.
Zayidi has already started on the clearing process after acquiring an order from court okaying the same.
On the 30th of June 2020, the High Court sitting in Masindi issued an order okaying the clearing of the Forest land to pave way for Sugar cane growing, a decision that has been highly criticized by lawyers and activists.
This happened even when the main suit filed resulting from deployment and establishment of a military detach to stop the clearing of the forest has not been settled.
Mustafa Zayid rushed to court and sued National Forestry Authority after it blocked his workers from clearing the forest and deploying security personnel to guard the area but before this could be settled, the same court issued an order giving him a green light to continue with the planned project.
This is happening as National Forestry Authority continues to battle Hoima Sugar Company that also claims ownership of 6000 hectares of Bugoma Forest land.
The land was leased to Hoima Sugar, which has a 70% shareholding in Kinyara Sugar Works in neighbouring Masindi district, in 2016 for 99 years by Solomon Iguru Gafabusa, king of the ancient kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. He said the leased area was ancestral land and not part of the protected forest.
In 2019, the court ruled that the land, leased to Hoima Sugar Company Ltd, lay outside the protected area of the forest. The court ordered the National Forestry Authority (NFA), mandated by the law to protect forests, to vacate the land and remove the military officers who had been guarding it but NFA has since appealed the decision.
Leaders adamant on ending charcoal trade
The authorities of Paibona Sub-county in Gulu District have blamed political leaders for promoting massive tree cutting for commercial charcoal production.
Mr Joseph Otim, the National Forestry Authority (NFA) sector manager, in an interview on Friday, said local leaders at sub-county and district levels connive with charcoal dealers in the guise of raising revenue.
“One of the biggest challenges in forest governance in this country is that the people who should be taking action are relaxed. The ones in office, the foresters, and the leaders at all levels view charcoal trade as a lucrative business. So everyone looks at what goes into their pockets, at the expense of conservations,” Mr Otim said.
He said some of the forest officials have been targeted and threatened by such leaders, especially whenever they impound forest products.
“Another challenge is the people who are highly placed and connected in the security organs who issue threats,” Mr Otim added.
During a field assessment by the district authorities to map deforestation in the area last week, heaps of cut trees being burnt for charcoal were found but no dealers found on site.
But in Akor and Ayweri villages that have chunks of deforested land, there are 193 registered commercial charcoal dealers. Some of these dealers were found on site and have been asked to abandon the trade. For fear of prosecution, some of the dealers withheld their identities. They, however, told Daily Monitor that they cannot abandon charcoal business because it is their only source of livelihood.
Mr Jackson Ayoli, the chairperson of Paibona Sub-county, however, said leaders cannot fight commercial charcoal burning because it is a major source of revenue.
He noted that the sub-county collected Shs3 million in the Financial year 2021/2021 from taxing charcoal and other forest products. From the September to November 2022 quarter, Mr Ayoli said the sub-county collected Shs3.1 million from forest-related products.
“Forest products are one of the major sources of local revenue in this sub county and without it, paying the allowances of the sub-county councillors and other staff would be a huge challenge,” Mr Ayoli said.
The Sub-county Chief, Mr David Kercan, said Paibona projected to collect Shs 16 million in local revenue in the last Financial Year (2021/2022). Local revenue sources include local service tax, trading licenses, and operations from Non-Governmental Organisations. “However, we realised only 67 percent of local revenue projections, translating to Shs 10,720,000 out of Shs16 million,” he said.
Ms Betty Aol Ocan, the Gulu City Woman Member of Parliament, said local governments should be innovative and find other sources of revenues.
The Global Forest Watch says Gulu District lost 988 hectares to illegal logging and charcoal burning in 2021—an equivalent to 440,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
It is also estimated that between 2001 and 2021, Gulu lost 38,700 hectares of tree cover.
Source: Daily Monitor
EACOP Partners With Surveyors Body as Pipeline Land Acquisition Nears Completion.
The East African Crude Oil pipeline Company (EACOP) Ltd on Wednesday entered a partnership with the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda (ISU) which will see them work together to among others bolster local capacities ahead of the construction of the regional oil pipeline.
Through this arrangement, USU undertook to conduct training of EACOP staff and offering internship programs for university students from universities of Makerere, Ndejje and Kyambogo.
The initiative will provide a three-months training and internship placement for selected participating university students twice a year during the breaks between semesters.
The Institute of surveyors of Uganda (ISU) has over 2200 members that brings together land surveying, quantity, surveying, valuation surveying, mining, and hydrological surveying professionals whose mandate is to promote professional surveying practices that can enhance the quality of services under the various surveying disciplines in Uganda.
Speaking during the MOU signing ceremony held in Kampala today, EACOP Managing Director Martin Tiffen said while they are currently employing several surveyors registered with ISU, they needed a platform for a stronger collaboration.
The partnership is hoped local content and capacity building in the oil sector in Uganda
“We have been consumers of services of different kinds of surveyors…but this agreement is a way for some of our staff to improve on their professional qualifications” he said“It also gives us a mechanism to receive students who need (internship) positioning into our organization.”
On his part, Dr. Nathan Kabwami, the President Institute of Surveyors echoed the significance of commitment of EACOP to the partnership with the Institute of Surveyors of Uganda to facilitate the delivery of quality training to future surveyors that will work on this incredible project.
“I thank EACOP for this commendable skilling initiative and urge all University students who meet the criteria for this program and are interested in being part of the transformation of Uganda’s oil and gas industry to embrace it.” He said.
Meanwhile, Mr Tiffen revealed that EACOP is progressing well with the process of acquiring land for the pipeline.
Since February last year when the oil Final Investment Decision was signed, Tiffen says over three quarters of project affected persons (PAPs) have been paid off.
There is a total of 3648 PAPs spread across 170 villages where the oil pipeline will pass through inside Uganda.
The EACOP MD also revealed that so far, construction of new houses for people for displaced families is nearly complete and that all 180 houses will be handed over to the owners early this year.
Ugandan communities battle to benefit from mining on their land
Defending Land And Environmental Rights1 week ago
Mubende police arrest and charge farmers that workers of a tree-planting company attacked.
Petitions6 days ago
Statement on the Dakar 2 Summit: “Climate smart agriculture” will worsen the climate crisis
Accountable Development To Communities1 day ago
The committee calls for the protection of projects’ host communities.
Defending Land And Environmental Rights1 day ago
State fails to produce a key witness, prematurely closes its prosecution in the trial of the eight land rights defenders
NGO work1 week ago
URGENT ALERT: Tanzanian Government Resorts to Cattle Seizures to Further Restrict Livelihoods of Maasai Pastoralists