27 April 2005

Uganda: Forestry Evicts 160 Families

Kayunga — The National Forestry Authority (NFA) last Wednesday evicted over 160 families claiming they had encroached on government forest reserves.

The forest reserves are Bujjo and Wamale in Bbaale sub-county and Kiwula in Galilaaya sub-county.

The forest reserves cover three square miles.

The NFA team that comprised of 10-armed policemen and officers of the district forest department, was led by Mr Levi Etodu.

There was a scuffle between the residents and the team as the latter resisted eviction.

Residents, who were led by Mr D. Kalangwa threatened to sue NFA on grounds that they were evicted unlawfully.

"We have been living on this land for over 40 years and nobody has been saying it is a government forest reserve. We shall sue NFA," Kalangwa said.

They said they would petition the LC5 chairman, Eng Steven Dagada to intervene.

Etodu said most of the residents had turned the reserves into farms.

He said most of the vegetation had been destroyed.

"If the evicted residents resettle on the land, we shall take them to court," Etodu said.

The District Forestry Officer, Mr Francis Byabagambi said the encroachers had been given up to April 1 to vacate the reserves but they defied the directive.

The majority of the residents are Somali nationals who have lived in Uganda for over 10 years.

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