Unidentified thugs have stolen 60 boundary markers organised by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to facilitate the boundary opening and demarcation of Kandanda-Ngobya Central Forest Reserve in Greater Kyabigambire Sub-county in Hoima District, mid-western Uganda.
Mr Boaz Basigirenda, the Budongo Systems Range Manager, says thugs cut a chain link before breaking into Buraru Health Centre 4 and made off with the boundary markers.
He, however, says after filing the case at Bulindi Police Station, thugs have secretly returned 37 of the 60 stolen boundary markers but they were re-cemented removing the NFA label.
As police investigates the thugs, NFA has ordered for boundary markers replacing the stolen ones to ensure the boundary opening exercise continues.
“The plan to reopen this boundary started far back last year. But it was derailed by different factors. We kept them inside Buraru Health Centre and reports indicate that the boundary markers have been there safely until last week when we started the boundary opening exercise,” says Mr Basigirenda.
He suspects the boundary markers were targeted by those who have been in a ploy to grab NFA land in order to frustrate the boundary opening exercise which they hope will provide truth to the world.
The land around Kandanda-Ngobya Central Forest Reserve has been long disputed mainly between some residents, ex-servicemen and war veterans.
The war veterans claim to own six square miles of land neighbouring the forest reserve but the key issue is the boundary.
As veterans argue that they were given that land by the Queen of England as crown land and the law of Uganda protects it, some local leaders say their ownership is questionable since Uganda is now a sovereign state.
Without pointing out, the NFA says there are individuals who have been claiming to be part of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom claiming land there.
Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom says Kandanda-Ngobya is part of the yet to be restituted properties and therefore, they support the boundary opening exercise to establish who owns what.
Mr Joseph Karugaba Isimbwa, the Hoima Veterans Association Chairperson, last week said they will not respect the ongoing boundary opening exercise because they were not involved despite being key stakeholders.
“We are planning to legal action against those who have chosen to reopen the boundary ignoring us as key stakeholders,” he said.
The exercise has even met resistance in parts of Buraru sub-county where by the area chairman, Mr Robert Mwanga, said residents need to be sensitised enough if their rights are to be protected.
NFA says it has invited all stakeholders but some people who hate the exercise declined to respond for reasons well known to them.