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.