Soldiers clash over Bugoma forest depletion, five disarmed

Latest degradation in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve (Photo credit: NFA)

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers under different commands have clashed over illegal transportation for forestry resources from the disputed Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Kikuube District.

Two UPDF soldiers and three Field Force Unit (FFU) policemen attached to the National Forestry Authority (NFA) have been assaulted and disarmed by another group of UPDF soldiers allegedly attached to Hoima Sugar Limited.

The assaulted NFA police guards are Cpl Peter Bulamu, Gerald Asiimwe and a one Nsungwa while the soldiers are  Pte Chance and Sgt Karim.

NFA is a mandated custodian of all the central forest reserves in Uganda.

Kazi-njema News has learnt that it all happened at Kololo trading centre in Kyangwali sub-county, Kikuube district when NFA guards intercepted a lorry carrying timber suspected to have been illegally harvested in Bugoma central forest reserve en-route to Nyairongo in Kabwoya sub-county along Nyabunende-Nyairongo Road.

Ms Aisha Alibhai, the NFA Spokesperson told this website that the incident occurred on Saturday at around 5pm. All their five NFA guards on duty were assaulted, disarmed and detained for some hours adding that a motorcycle taxi rider commonly known as boda-boda mistaken to be part of the guards was also assaulted by the violent soldiers.

Ms Alibhai confirmed to Kazi-njema News that the Authority had opened a case at Wairagaza Police Post under CRB number 11/14//04/21 willing to take on the matter until justice is seen prevailing.  

Audio: Alibhai on assault (English)
Trees facing power saws in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Kyangwali Sub-county, Kikuube District (Photo credit: NFA)

According to information gathered by the NFA, the soldiers escorting the lorry loaded with forestry resources were being commanded by Lt Vincent Ebuku.

Mr Allan Julius Hakiza, the Albertine Region Police Spokesperson, has confirmed the incident saying that investigations are underway.

Audio: Hakiza on assault (English)

Capt Stephen Tumwesigye, the UPDF Public Relations Officer for Artillery Division Masindi who is also in charge of the entire Bunyoro sub-region was not aware of the incident by press time.

Mr Alex Obonyo, NFA Kisindi Sector Manager says they were tipped off by concerned citizens of the truck loading the timber in Nyamigisa parts of the central forest reserve.

Nyamigisa is about nine kilometres away from the disputed parts inside Bugoma forest, he adds.

Mr Obonyo says the timber was being transported on truck registration number UBH 975 Y.

Background

In October last year, journalists survived being shot by the military while they were investigating allegations of massive degradation of the forest in Nyairongo parts of the forest.

The dispute over Bugoma forest giveaway in favour of sugarcane planting has been growing since 2017.

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