Wednesday September 2 2015

UWA accused of grabbing land

A house built by encroachers in Mt Elgon

A house built by encroachers in Mt Elgon national park. The encroachers want the boundary to be de-gazetted. PHOTO BY David Mafabi 

By DAVID MAFABI

BUDUDA. People claiming to have been forced off their land by Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) around Mt Elgon National Park area have asked government to trash the 2002 boundaries and make fresh ones after consulting them.
In their memorandum handed to Mt Elgon Conservation area manager Adonia Bintorwa last Friday in Bubiita, Bududa District, the residents accuse UWA and park surveyors of mismanaging the 1963/1964 boundary plan and grabbing their land.
The memorandum, signed by the LC3 chairman for Bubiita Sub-county, Mr Abassa Watuwa, calls for investigations into the boundary marks that have seen 800 families near the park evicted.
“We, the residents of Bubiita bordering Mt Elgon National park, reject the 2002 park boundaries and request for fresh gazetting of the national park in consultation with us in order to enable some families to regain their cradle land unfairly taken over by the park [authorities],” said Mr Watuwa.
The memorandum says whereas several ministers and other government officials visited the people evicted from their land and promised to look into the issues, nothing has been done. The encroachers claim their ancestors were buried in Kiwandu parish, now part of the national park, and that they are ready to show ministers, UWA officials and even the President the graves in their cradle land, now in the park.

The allegation
The memo said rendering people landless and turning them into squatters on their own land, living in camps under poor sanitation, was the highest level of abuse of human rights, neglect and irresponsibility on the side of government and UWA.
The Mt Elgon Conservation area manager, Dr Bintorwa, however, said government does not consider giving out land belonging to the park. He advised the people to seek other means.
Dr Bintorwa said the boundary plan of 2002, like that of 1963/1964, was made under an Act of Parliament and that it is only Parliament that is mandated to order re-demarcation of the national park boundaries and not UWA.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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