Buganda Officials Claim Responsibility For Burning Disputed Forest Reserve

On Thursday, Kyakumpi forest reserve was set ablaze, which destroyed it completely.
Bulu Katale, Buganda Kingdom official inspects burnt forest reserve
Buganda Kingdom officials have claimed responsibility for burning Kyakumpi forest reserve. The dispute forest reserve, which sits on about 15 acres of land, is found at Kirumba along Masaka-Mbarara Highway. Kyakumpi forest reserve is home to eucalyptus mangoes, avocado, jambula and mvule trees amongst others. Kyakumpi forest reserve is at the center of bitter dispute involving National Forest Reserve and Buganda Kingdom, because it also hosts Muteesa One Royal University. 

In 2011, Buganda Kingdom officials uprooted several trees planted by National Forestry Authority to expand its green cover. On Thursday, Kyakumpi forest reserve was set ablaze, which destroyed it completely. On Friday morning, Buganda Kingdom officials claimed responsibility for burning the forest. Hajj Buulu Katale, the Deputy Pokino Buddu County admitted ordering for the burning of the forest as part of their campaign to destroy it completely. Katale explained that Buganda Kingdom Okayed its destruction to give way for the establishment of other development projects on the land. He says the Kingdom wants to establish a multibillion education project comprising a primary, secondary and vocation college. 

Katale claims that they were forced to remove the forest after discovering that National Forestry authority officials led by Amos Ssebyaala, the Masaka district NFA Sector Manager were illegally allocating plots to private individuals without consulting Mengo.  Deo Mawejje, a Mengo official in Charge of Sazza area claimed that NFA officials had illegally allocated about 20 plots of land to private individuals. He says that the official didn’t remit any money they received from the transaction to Buganda Kingdom. Mawejje defends the burning of the forest reserve to clear it for the establishment of development projects belonging to Kingdom to boost its revenue collection.

Amos Ssebyaala, the Masaka District NFA Sector Manager says they have inspected the forest report and made a report to Masaka district council for discussion before appropriate action is taken against Buganda officials. Ssebyala also denies allegations that they have allocated plots to private people in the reserve saying he is surprised at the claims. Cissy Nakalule, a resident operating a nursery school close to the burnt forest reserve claims to have secured a lease from Masaka Land board and Buganda Kingdom. She told Uganda Radio Network that she was allowed to operate her nursery school by Buganda Kingdom. Nakalule says she is now processing a land title to ensure she legally settles on the land.






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