Monday August 11 2014

Evicted forest encroachers ask Museveni to intervene


A group of forest encroachers who were ordered to vacate Matiri Central Forest Reserve in Kyenjojo District have petitioned President Museveni to intervene in the matter.

On July 25 High Court Judge David Batema lifted a five-year order that had barred National Forestry Authority from conducting any activity on the land.

Court directed the encroachers to harvest all their crops by August 28 to allow NFA protect the fragile state of Matiri Central Forest reserve.

However, in a July 28 letter, the group under ‘Bataka Kweranaho’ asked the President to give them land or stop the eviction.

“We request government to grant us some land to accommodate the homeless people. Our main trading center where we base our economic transformation has been grabbed by NFA and the internal market is completely cut off,” reads the letter signed by Omuhereza Rwakaboyo.

Mr Rwakaboyo is leading 119 other petitioners in the 2005 case against NFA claiming ownership of the forest land, saying they acquired it in 1900 by way of personal customary, inheritance and or purchase.

In a separate letter, Mr Patrick Kalubanga and 40 others are claiming ownership of land at Mukonomura, Rwibale, Butunduzi in Kyenjojo District. They claim that unless the boundaries of the reserve are opened and ascertained, they ought not to be evicted on a mere presumption that they are occupying a forest reserve.

Court last week set two days in August this year for hearing and determination of disputes in connection with acquisition and occupation of land in Matiri Central Forest Reserve in Kabarole and Kyenjojo districts.