Uganda: Court Blocks NFA Plan to Open Boundaries in Bajjo Forest Reserve

The Mukono High Court has issued an order stopping National Forest Authority (NFA) from going ahead with opening boundaries of Bajjo Central Forest Reserve in Galilaaya Sub County, Kayunga District.

The interim order issued by the Mukono High Court Deputy Registrar, Ms Mary Ikit, follows a complaint filed in court by Mr Morgan Isingoma, a landlord, who claims to have in possession a title deed for Bajjo Central Reserve land.

"Pending the hearing of the main application inter-parties, the status quo should be maintained and NFA, its agents, employees, servants or any person acting under its instructions or working under its directions or authority be and are hereby restrained from opening boundaries of the suit land comprised in FRV 1582 Folio 10 Plot 2 Block 160 at Katayigwa Kayunga ,Bugerere and FRV 1586 Folio 25 Plots 3 and 4 Bugerere Block 160 at Katayigwa or any part thereof," the interim order issued on Monday reads in part.

Last month, Mr Isingoma, sold off two square miles of Bajjo Central Forest Reserve to Kiira Motors Corporation for an unspecified amount of money.

According to the Ntenjeru North MP and state Minister for Finance, Mr Amos Lugoloobi, Kiira Motors plans to construct an automobile manufacturing company on the land in question.

However, on getting information that part of Bajjo Forest Reserve land had been sold off, NFA, a statutory body mandated to manage all central forest reserves embarked on a move to open boundaries of the forest, prompting Mr Isingoma to drag the authority to court.

Mr Isingoma insists he obtained a title for the 2 square mile land in Bajjo forest reserve in 2014 and has a right to sell it.

"All I want is NFA to vacate my land so that Kiira Motors can take possession of it," Mr Isingoma said, describing the court order as a big success.

But the NFA legal manager, Mr Moses Muhumuza, said NFA would go ahead with the exercise of opening boundaries saying, "We are opening Bajjo Central Forest Reserve land not the titled land."

Mr Muhumuza added that as NFA, by opening boundaries of the reserve, they are doing a routine of maintaining the forest.

Mr Tom Rukundo, the NFA director of Natural Forests wondered how Isingoma obtained a title in a forest reserve saying the sale of the land is illegal.

But Mr Michael Ojja, the Lwankima sector manager where Bajjo Forest Reserve is located, said Mr Isingoma simply applied to plant trees in Bajjo Forest Reserve and was allowed.

"I am surprised that Isingoma turned around and sold off the forest land. He wants to grab it," Mr Ojja said.

He said Mr Isingoma obtained a title deed in the forest reserve land through dubious means.

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