The proposed cut down of 22 Sq. miles (20%) of Bugoma forest reserve to plant sugar canes by Hoima sugar Limited is outrageous and dramatic as security agents partake in the illegal timber logging. The area for development is located in Kyangwali Sub-county, Buhaguzi County, Kikuube District. Bugoma forest
Bugoma forest is sanctuary for wild life, 500 Chimpanzees and rare birds call this home. Bugoma is not only looked at as part of tourism which currently fetches more than 1.4 trillion UGX for Uganda (2019/2020 Budget) ranking second foreign income earner. But also, the Sensitive biodiversity of water bodies and forests, national parks and wetlands and the roles they provide that depend on it. The facilitated encroachment of human activities in protected areas and yet NEMA’s role is to conserve and protect natural resources is shambolic and environmental terrorism. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is at fore front of issuing certificates of operation in these sensitive ecosystems and this must stop.
Citizens’ Concern Africa (CICOA) as a member Action for conservation of Bugoma forest (ACBF) which is a coalition of 20 organizations together with other committed efforts both local and international community like European Union in Uganda have come up with programs to save forests in Uganda and Bugoma CFR is on priority list. These efforts however, are being watered down by some Government agencies like NEMA
From reliable sources that prefer anonymous, the forest is now being guarded by some security operatives who man it 24/7, however, Lorries of Timber are seen leaving the forest to. In uncoordinated security operations on 13th March 2021, NFA security officers who are supported by police learnt of the Lorry leaving the forest with Timber and staged a road block to stop and apprehend the culprits at Kololo trading center, little did they know that their intelligence was being intercepted and counter planned. At 5pm they were surrounded by six UPDF solidiers whom they know very well, they were put on gun point and disarmed. What followed was a dessert course of serious beatings for hours with spices of dragging them to the wetland in Kololo and making them roll in the mud and water. All this happened with pleas from NFA officers not to be assaulted since they know each other, but fell on deaf ears.
The assaulted officers include private Chance and Sergeant Kharim from UPDF and Corporal Bulamu Peter, Nsungwa and Asiimwe Gerald from Police FFU plus on local resident Boda boda rider. It’s alleged the gang that assaulted them was led by Lieutenant Ebuku Vincent and Omara Fred attached to Hoima sugar LTD. The situation was saved by a one captain who came stopped the fight and now the assaulted are getting treatment. A case was opened at Wairagaza police post on SD Ref 11/14/03/21.
It should be noted, cabinet on 2nd Feb Passed a resolution to borrow $78.2m from the International development Association (IDA) of the world Bank Group to finance Uganda investing in forests and protected areas for climate-smart development project which include sustainable management of forests and protected areas, increase revenue from forests and wildlife protected areas, tree planting to increase forest cover in Albertine region, west Nile and Lamwo districts.
But again, it’s the same government that issues licenses to commercial sugar growers to deforest a tropical natural forest which actually plays a big role in carbon absorption in the region and beyond. And owing to the fact that, oil and gas related developments are in the same region and are likely if not already polluted the region, Bugoma forest comes in as the immediate shock absorbers of the pollution.
The writer is,
Citizens’ concern Africa (CICOA)