Hoima Sugar has lost 13 sq miles of land in Bugoma, Kyangwali Sub-county, in Kikuube District following a decision by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to deny it planting sugarcane there.
A statement released by Ms Sheila Nduhukire of Lead Strategist Outcome Communications- the Communications and Public Relations Consulting Firm for Hoima Sugar says that Hoima Sugar expresses discontent over the decision because the land was leased to them by Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.
“We are unhappy with the decision by National Environment Management denying us the right to plant sugarcane on all the 22 Square Miles of land in Bugoma, Kikube district in western Uganda that was leased to us by the Bunyoro Kingdom. The guidance issued by Nema in the certificate of use we got recently, unfairly deprives our company of its rightful occupancy,” the statement says.
Hoima Sugar says that the environment body listened to environmental activists who allegedly misled it adding that the company treasures environment and thus it cannot destroy the forest.
Recently, 16 civil society organisations from across the country including CRED, AFIEGO and ACODE among others petitioned the Prime Minister of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Mr Andrew Byakutaaga, urging him to devise means of stopping Hoima Sugar from cutting Bugoma forest in favour of sugarcane growing.
“It is obvious the environment body fell for the misleading campaign and arguments by self-seeking environment activists who posed to be fighting to protect the forest. The 22 Square Miles that we got from Bunyoro Kingdom is not on a forest. We are a green company and there is simply no way we would be wanting to cut down a forest,” the statement continues.
In August 2016, Bunyoro Kingdom leased 41,144 hectares for development and to set up a sugar plant and sugarcane plantation.
Last year, NFA dragged Hoima Sugar to court challenging its occupancy and court ruled in favour of the company.
The sugar company said that court ruled saying that it should continue using the 22sq miles that it says border Bugoma Forest Reserve.
Now, the company is bitter that an environment and social impact assessment certificate it has got from NEMA has only permitted it to grow sugarcane on nine square miles of grassland.
“The development sends relief down the spine of environmental activists and they can choose to chest thump over the win but our interest as investors needs to be protected. We cannot keep people failing the development of the country and failing our investments simply because they go around telling lies about our project,” Hoima Sugar says in the statement.
Following the issuance of the certificate, Hoima Sugar says it intends to challenge NEMA’s decision adding that they are consulting their legal department.
“It would be within our right to challenge what NEMA has done and we are indeed consulting our lawyers because we are truly disappointed that NEMA chose to deny us the right of possession of more than half of our legitimately acquired land (13sqmiles),” the company adds.