Motion to de-gazette Kayunga forest reserves is not in good will – Residents

forest reserves

On the 26th day of October 2021, a motion to de-gazette three (3) forest reserves namely; Wamale Central Forest Reserve, Kiula Central Forest Reserve and Bajo Central Forest Reserve that are located in Bbaale and Galiraya sub counties in Bbaale Constituency in Kayunga District was moved under rule 56 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament by the Hon. Charles Tebandeke the Bbaale Constituency Legislator on the floor of parliament and seconded by Nsanja Patrick Kayongo (MP Ntenjeru South), Hon. Lugolobi Amos (MP Ntenjeru North)andZijan David Livingstone (MP Butembe County).

However, the debate caused mixed reactions immediately after it’s tabling first from the Kayunga District Woman MP Hon. Nantaba Idah Erios citing bribe and hidden motives behind the motion and later from the residents of the district and particularly the residents from the two sub-counties in which the contested forest reserves are found.

“WHEREAS currently in Uganda, Government has gazetted 506 Central Forest Reserves in Uganda, three of which, namely, Wamale Central Forest Reserve, Kiula Central Forest Reserve and Bajo Central Forest Reserve, are located in Bbaale sub county, and Galiraya sub counties in Bbaale Constituency in Kayunga District;

AWARE THAT Wamale Central Forest Reserve, Kiula Central Forest Reserve and Bajo Central Forest Reserve have a combined acreage of 6,625 hectares;

NOTING THAT land constituting Wamale Central Forest Reserve, Kiula Central Forest Reserve and Bajo Central Forest Reserve has been heavily settled on by residents, numbering about seventy thousand households, resulting in the establishment of four trading centres, seven parishes and twenty nine villages in two sub counties;

FURTHER NOTING THAT Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development has issued land titles to residents on land belonging to Wamale Central Forest Reserve, Kiula Central Forest Reserve and Bajo Central Forest Reserve who continue occupying the said land as lawful occupants and have established communities, schools, hospitals and places of worship;

RECOGNISING THAT due to increased urbanization coupled with the availability of agricultural output that can be used as raw materials in agro processing industries, the land currently occupied by Wamale Central Forest Reserve, Kiula Central Forest Reserve And Bajo Central Forest Reserve Kayunga District is suitable for establishing industrial parks which will in turn create more jobs, ease accessibility of land for investments, introduce new research, technologies and skills development as well as boost Uganda’s exports;

FURTHER RECOGNISING THAT Kayunga District, where Wamale, Kiula and Bajo Central Forest Reserves are located, is a densely populated district, with a total population of 368,062 as found by the National Population and Housing Census, 2014 and a total land mass of 158,800 hectares, which cannot ably sustain the ever growing population in the District, resulting in increased land conflicts, especially in the sub-counties of Bbaale, Galiraya, Kayonza, and Kitimbwa Sub county;

CONCERNED THAT due to the high population density in Kayunga District,land belonging to Wamale, Kiula and Bajo Central Forest Reserves have been heavily and irreversibly degraded, making the areas gazetted as forest reserves, in title with little or no tree cover to make the forest reserve viable;

FURTHER CONCERNED THAT unless the land belonging to Wamale, Kiula and Bajo Central Forest Reserves is de-gazette to allow human settlement, the seventy thousand households currently occupying that land will continue having no security of tenure on the land and the continued land wrangles and land evictions in the district are likely to continued un abated; 

COGNISANT THAT Wamale, Kiula and Bajo Central Forest Reservescan only be de-gazetted by Government, through presenting a motion for a resolution of Parliament, in accordance with sections 7 and 8 of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, upon satisfaction of various other requirements, including providing alternative land for the establishment of a new forest reserve as well as carrying out an environmental assessment;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by this House that the Minister responsible for Water and Environment, considers de-gazetting Wamale, Kiula and Bajo Central Forest Reserves in Kayunga District for human settlement and establishment of industrial parks. I beg to move” says the motion.

Much as the legislator told parliament that the forest reserves are heavily settled on by over 70,000 households, residents cite this as a fat lie since the 2014 census carried out by Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicate that the entire district made up of 9 sub-counties then had 75,962 households of which the two (2) sub-counties of Bbaale and Galiraya had 3,794 households making 21.7% percentage and 5,065 households making 19.4% respectivelyof the total district household percentage and there is no science that can prove the rapid growth of households on only forest reserves minus other parts of the sub-counties to almost equal to the entire district known figures and residents authoritatively speak that the legislator figures were engineered with a hidden motive to hoodwink the house to have the motion passed.

It should be remembered that the said sub-counties are mostly engaged in cattle keeping and they make Kayunga one of the leading districts in producing milk supplied to the rest of the country. It’s upon that background, that residents think that if the motion becomes a success they may lose the big chunk land they have been using publically for cattle rearing to the isolated few individuals that may have the capacity to obtain land titles once the de-gazetting is done.

Kayunga district of recent is well known for the rampant land wrangles where thousands have been evicted from their land by some army and government officials and some homes are replaced by sugarcanes plantations and it’s upon this background that residents view the motion with ill motives to have the forest reserves land given to the rich men and women in the name of establishing industrial parks since a one growing motor vehicle company called Kira Motors has already secured land titles on the same forest reserves even before the degazetting is done and chance of human settlements are zero.

A one senior citizen advised the legislator to follow the Prime Minister’s advice that she gave on 17th September 2021 while on her visit to Galiraya Sub-County which was hit badly by floods. It’s on this visit that the suggestion of de-gazetting the three forest reserves of Wamale Central Forest Reserve, Kiula Central Forest Reserve and Bajo Central Forest Reserve first surfaced in the public domain when the Bbaale County legislator Hon. Tebandeke Charles asked the Government through the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabanjja to avail the forest reserves to the affected residents of Kawongo, Bweyale, Kikota and Kyedikyo landing sites. However in her reply she advised the legislator to search for another free piece of land on sale and presents it to the government to buy it for people who were affected by floods and other evictees, but all these seem to have fallen on a deaf ear of the legislator.

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Should the above forest reserves be de-gazetted, Kayunga District is most likely to register a drop in the liters of milk harvested since most pastoralists will eventually have to relocate to Nakasongola and other districts which have free land that can support their cattle keeping activities and this will consequentially lead to high prices of milk and beef within the district a privilege the residents have enjoyed for decades. 

Written by 

Frank Musisi is my name, systems analyst by profession. A computer Teacher and author of the Ultimate Guide to computer applications Tutorials. I do religious and political research. Contact me for more on: 0751-914161/0788-383229

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