26 June 2006

Uganda: NFA Blames Forest Reserve Encroachment On Mujasi

Mbale — The LC5 chairman admitted to have mobilised people to visit Bufumbo forest reserve

THE National Forestry Authority has identified Mbale LC5 Chairman Bernard Mujasi as the person interfering with their work in the district.

Speaking to Daily Monitor on June 19, the NFA Sector Manager, Mr Enoch Arinaitwe, said whereas NFA has been advising people to leave the central forest reserves in Mbale for conservation purposes, Mujasi has been telling them not to vacate the reserves.

Arinaitwe accused Mujasi of mobilising people and urging them to resist evictions.

"On June 17, Mujasi mobilised a group of locals armed with pangas, clubs and sticks and attacked NFA officials at Bufumbo," Arinaitwe said.

"He instructed NFA officials to stop planting trees and leave the forest immediately." Arinaitwe said: "The LC5 chairman has been the major roadblock to our work as NFA in Mbale."

NFA officials allege that during LC5 campaigns, Mujasi told residents to settle on reserves. Mujasi admitted to have mobilised people to visit Bufumbo central forest reserve but added "the move was meant to check illegal activities by NFA."

"I went to Bufumbo to check the illegal activities of NFA like slashing people's crops and encroaching on people's land meant for cultivation among others," Mujasi said.

Mujasi said as district chairman, he is empowered by the Local Government Act to supervise all activities, projects and programmes of the government and NGOs meant for proper service delivery.

Arinaitwe dismissed claims that NFA destroys people's crops.

"We allowed them to look after the crops and harvest them before the re-demarcation of the forest reserves boundaries," he said.

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