Hoima Sugar to restore Kyangwali land damaged by encroachers 

A section of Hoima Sugar  Factory in Kikuube District.

Hoima Sugar has agreed to restore land at Kyangwali in Kikuube District, which was damaged by encroachers.

This followed a letter from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), informing the sugar company that a recent site visit to the Kyangwali Mixed Land Use project found the area greatly degraded and many trees cut.

But in a statement issued on Tuesday, Hoima Sugar Limited said whereas they followed the requirements of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificate issued by Nema in regard to using the land, some trespassers on the land, who have engaged in logging and charcoal burning, have frustrated their work.

“We would like to state clearly that all clearing activities carried out by the company for the establishment of the sugar cane estate have been done with adherence to the coordinates in the ESIA licence. The company has not undertaken any clearing in any areas outside of the permitted coordinates,” said Hoima Sugar in a statement issued on Tuesday morning.

“However, we have been struggling with illegal trespassers on the land who have engaged in logging and charcoal burning ever since the project began.”

Hoima Sugar was allowed to set up a sugarcane plantation on 2,393 hectares, develop an urban centre, an eco-tourism centre, a cultural site and a natural reserved forest and nature walkways.

Nema says there was deforestation of the natural reserved forest areas contrary to approval conditions.
“As a result of this, the area of natural forests that was supposed to be protected has been severely degraded. There was deforestation of the eco-tourism site contrary to approval conditions, which has affected the quality of the site for eco-tourism purposes,” NEMA’s statement issued on Tuesday reads in part.

 In response, Hoima sugar said it has been battling trespassers who damaged the land.

The company said the most recent of the challenges came about between September 2021 and April 2022 when thousands of people were ferried into the project area and began farming and burning charcoal in complete disregard for the conservation requirements that governed the activities which were permitted on various sections of the project land. 

“The trespassers were extremely hostile to our staff and we were advised by security officials to withdraw from the area in order to avoid any violence. We followed this advice and took up the matter in writing with the appropriate authorities to take action against these illegal trespassers. It was only in April 2022 that we were able to regain access to these areas,” said the sugar company.

“This process was witnessed by the authorities and the media at the time. It is evident that there has indeed been partial damage to the buffer zones and green zones of our project area.”

Nema blocked what it described as deforestation of the natural reserve forest area, eco-tourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban centre.

“No sugar cane should be planted in the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites area and land reserved for urban center. The sugar cane must be restrict-ed to the area permitted in the certificate. The 312.3ha earlier approved for the urban centre is halted to be kept as a natural forest in view of the country’s efforts to recover forest cover loss.

 Restore all degraded areas of the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban center,” Nema said.

Hoima sugar said the project, despite being on private land, had been designed by the company to encompass these zones in order to preserve the ecologically sensitive areas of the project land. 

“The company therefore expresses its deep regret that these areas have been partially damaged by illegal trespassers,” said the Sugar company.

Nema said Hoima Sugar should prepare a restoration plan for the degraded areas in consultation with Forestry Sector Support Department of the Ministry of Water and Environment (FSSD), National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and submit the same to this Authority for approval within a period of not more than three months from the date of this order.

“Implement the Restoration Plan in 4 above at your cost with guidance from FSSD, NFA and UWA to the satisfaction of this Authority. Permit third parties approved by this Authority who may wish to participate in the restoration process of the degraded areas as appropriate,” said Nema.

In response, Hoima Sugar observed: “... as the implementers of the project, we fully agree with the order from NEMA to undertake restoration of the damaged areas. We commit to restoring these damaged areas with strict adherence to a NEMA approved restoration plan.”

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