Statement: Bukasa/Namanve central forest reserve and surrounding wetland to pave way for infrastructural

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NEMA issued eviction notices to the encroachers occupying the Namanve Forest Reserve and surrounding wetlands on 5th December, 2016, giving 21 days’ notice as required by the law. Following the Notice, affected persons went to court and petitioned the President over the matter. The President has since pronounced himself on this matter in subsequent meetings, including with the affected people on the ground.
Namanve was gazzeted as a central forest reserve in 1932, and was partially degazetted in 1997 to pave way for development of an industrial park to facilitate business development. Encroachers took advantage of this change in land use to acquire land titles in wetlands and the central forest reserve, well aware of the fact that they were breaking the law.
The above action speaks to a plague of poor compliance culture that continues to stifle, undo and slow development across the whole country. While NEMA and other Government agencies have achieved results through enforcement, this method is not sustainable. It is important that concerned communities readily cooperate with Government in order to save time and tax payers money that is otherwise spent in undue compensation and legal process like is the case now with Namanve-Bukasa central forest reserve and adjacent wetlands.
It is against this backdrop that the key Government departments concerned with the matter namely; NEMA and NFA, with support from other Government agencies, have come together to update the public on the efforts aimed at restoring land in Namanve –Bukasa forest reserve and surrounding wetlands. The said areas need to be freed of any encroachment to fully restore the integrity of the eco-systems which remain significant for our environment protection as well as to pave way for Government infrastructural developments which are time barred and are for the benefit of the greater public.

Some of the Projects due to traverse through these areas are the Standard Gauge Railway and the Bukasa Port projects, among others, that the Government is pursuing to support the development agenda of Uganda.
All concerned parties, especially the encroachers in the named areas are hereby therefore reminded:
1. That NEMA and NFA have not relented on the pursuit for reclamation of this area of Bukasa and therefore all concerned persons, especially the encroachers are reminded to start vacating immediately as advised earlier.

2. Take note that the Government is undertaking a comprehensive program that is underway to cancel all the illegal titles that are in wetlands. The process of cancellation is in advanced stages and Namanve –Bukasa restoration should serve as precedent and warning to all that have illegal titles in such protected areas.
Naomi Karekaho


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