9 September 2006

Uganda: 30,000 to Face Eviction in Rakai

Rakai — THE National Forestry Authority will evict over 30,000 people in Kyalulangira, Kagamba, Kacheera and Dwaniro sub-counties of Kooki county.

NFA claims the people had encroached on gazetted forest reserves.

However, the Kagamba sub-county Chairperson, Mr Wilson Kamoli, has written to Kooki MP, Maj. Erasmus Mugumya Magulumaali, to intervene.

"The residents have lived here for so many years, that they have nowhere to go, and therefore I ask for your intervention," the letter reads in part. Magulumaali told Daily Monitor last week that the evictions were intended to cause suffering to the population.

"If the government degazatted Mabira Forest and allowed Mehta to grow sugarcanes there, why doesn't it degazatte Kooki forest reserves for these people to continue with their agricultural activities?" he asked. "What they call forest reserves are in actual sense plain grasslands. The NFA should instead advise these people on better farming techniques like planting fruit trees in their gardens."

President Yoweri Museveni recently directed the Ministry of Water and Environment to give away a quarter of Mabira Forest to the Mehta Group of Companies to grow sugarcanes.

Mehta are the owners of the Sugar Corporation of Uganda.

While campaigning at Buyamba playground in Dwaniro sub-county on February 17, Museveni said, "the National Forestry Authority should not evict any settler from the forest reserves."

"As indicated in my campaign manifesto, we shall carry out a deliberate afforestation programme of all bare hills in the country."

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