Mukono residents pitch camp at forest reserve to stop encroachers

Residents armed with machetes and sticks set up roadblocks on major routes entering the forest besides conducting foot patrols to fight encroachers. (Courtesy photo)

Residents of Bugoye Village in Ntenjeru Sub-county, Mukono District have scaled up surveillance to stop any further encroachment on Zirimiti Central Forest Reserve (CFR).

The scaled up vigilance follows about 30 men armed with machetes started clearing part of the forestland on Friday evening.

Although the residents managed to stop the encroachers, Mr Elias Byamukama who led the encroachers insisted that they had secured permission from the National Forestry Authority (NFA) three years ago, to use part of the forest reserve land to plant eucalyptus trees.

However, the residents insist that the president banned all sorts of activities including planting trees and farming in the forest reserves.

In October last year, President Yoweri Museveni directed Lieutenant Colonel Edith Nakalema, the Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate the encroachment on Namanve and Zirimiti CFRs and ensure encroachment is stopped forthwith.

Residents armed with machetes and sticks have now set up roadblocks on the major routes entering the forest in addition to conducting foot patrols.

Mr David Kiyaga, the Ntenjeru Sub-county Chairman says in their meeting with Col. Nakalema and NFA team, it was agreed that the land should be used by locals through planting indigenous trees as well as planting suitable crops.

One of the residents, Mike Ssevume, says forest rangers have been bitter whenever residents try to collect firewood in the forest wondering how they could just look on as unknown encroachers take over the forestland.

The Bugoye Village Vice Chairman, Ronald Ssekankya, says many people take over the forest land even without introducing themselves to the local leaders.

The Officer in Charge of Ntenjeru police station, Gilbert Kawere, says they have summoned mr Byamukama to prove that he secured permission to use the forest land.

Mr Kawere says that the police have also deployed intelligence to avoid likely chaos in the area.

Residents armed with machetes and sticks have set up roadblocks on major routes entering the forest in addition to conducting foot patrols to fight encroachers.

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