RDC accuses government of corruption on Bugoma forest conflict

Mr Amlan Tumusiime, the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner (RDC).

The Kikuube Resident District Commissioner (RDC) has accused some central government authorities of corruption that has set the conflict over Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in continuation posing social and environmental fears.

Mr Amlan Tumusiime said this while responding to community concerns at a community dialogue on conservation organised by the Anti-corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU) in partnership with Mid-western Regional Anti-corruption Coalition (MIRAC) in Hoima city.

The RDC said that he has noticed dishonesty not only in the relevant government agencies but also in Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and its tenant – Hoima Sugar Limited who are key players in a five-year long Bugoma forest land dispute.

According to his interpretation, failure or delay to clarify on the boundaries of the contested land is being dishonest and symbolic of corruption.

Mr Tumusiime emphasised that the solution to Bugoma forest conflict that can pull the natural resource out of depletion danger is urgency to clarify on the boundaries.

Sound bite: Tumusiime on boundary opening (English)
Destroyed Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.

The question of Nyairongo residents’ land security as they remain unaware of their neighbour but only claiming to be near Bugoma central forest reserve surfaced several times during the engagement.

Mr Desire Nkurunziza, the Nyairongo village chairman tasked officials from Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and the government of Uganda to clarify on the fate of communities in a couple of villages neighbouring the forest.

Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Apollo Rwamparo Akiiki, differed from other kingdom officials by not giving hope of land security to occupants on kingdom land who claim that it was offered to them by the king.

According to him, he has seen many claimants with agreements of offer that do not weigh to justify Kingdom Land Board approval.

Sound bite: Rwamparo on land (Runyoro/Rutooro)

Some soft handed kingdom officials had shown hope that with negotiations, occupancy could be legalised.

On residents fearing eviction, the Kikuube RDC revealed that in his viewpoint, most residents around Nyairongo remained unsafe and would possibly face eviction because they surely sit on the land the kingdom leased to Hoima Sugar Limited for 99 years.

“Nobody should deceive you to sleep comfortably until the boundary is opened”, he said.

Sound bite: Tumusiime on residents (English)

Speaking on behalf of the Manager Kisindi Sector of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, Mr Henry Irumba, said political interference and weak laws and policies are among the key challenges in the management of forest reserves.

Sound bite: Irumba on laws (Runyoro/Rutooro)
Ms Cissy Kagaba, Executive Director Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU).

Ms Cissy Kagaba, the Executive Director ACCU, urged communities to become active in issues of natural resource management because they are always directly affected by their abuse.

Mr Ismael Kusemererwa, the Executive Director MIRAC, challenged members of civil society organisations to remain in solidarity to fight illegalities in forestry and wildlife sub-sectors.

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