Wildlife and environmental conservationists are demanding the
closure of Apaa Market in Itirikwa Sub County, Adjumani district for illegally operating
in protected areas.
The conservationists comprising the Environmental Police Protection Unit,
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), environmental pressure group ‘’Friends of
Zoka’’ and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) say that the existence of the
market is fuelling the destruction of trees in Zoka Central Forest Reserve and
illegal human activities on the East Madi Wildlife reserve.
Apaa market has existed for more than 10 years has over 1,500 vendors and draws
more than 4,000 traders during its weekly market days on Tuesday and Thursday.
The market is situated in the disputed Apaa Township located in Itirikwa Sub
County which borders Adjumani and Amuru districts.
Both NFA and UWA say that the market is located in the protected areas of Zoka
Central Forest Reserve and the East Madi Wildlife Reserve and argue that it is threatening
the two natural resources.
Simon Peter Okoshi, the Commandant Environmental Police Protection Unit says
that there is an increase in illegal activities in terms of charcoal burning,
construction of illegal structures and logging within the Zoka Central Forest
He largely attributes the illegal activities to the existence of the market
which he says is a hub for the illicit trading in forest products, drawing
traders from as far as Central Uganda, Gulu City, Oyam district and parts of
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Hanji Bashir the UWA Spokesperson says that the market is situated within the
East Madi Wildlife Reserve adding that plans are underway to have it closed and
its occupants evicted.
Byron Oguzu, the Forest Supervisor for West Nile added that the closure of the
Apaa market is the only lasting and workable solution to the destruction of
forest in the area.
He explained that their efforts to stop the destruction of trees in the area
have been rendered helpless due to continued occupation by people in the area.
Ben Anyama, the Adjumani LCV Chairperson says that
the district is set to hold meetings with all stakeholders and the
conservationists to relocate the Apaa market from the protected area to Zoka
Trading Centre which is about ten kilometres away from the protected areas.
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He however noted that the market is not remitting any revenue to Adjumani
district but instead to Pabbo Sub County in Amuru district. But Alfred
Labalpiny the Pabbo Sub County Chairperson says that the market is not registered
and cannot be tendered.
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In 2019, Adjumani district, UWA and NFA failed to close Apaa Market and
relocate its vendors to Zoka Trading Centre which is said to be outside the
The Adjumani Resident District Commissioner Peter Taban blamed the failure on
political interference and selfish interest from a section of people.
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Charles Odong the Apaa Market Chairperson has maintained that the Apaa market
is not in a protected area but situated on land belonging to the community
adding that they are not willing to vacate.
Last week URN visited Apaa Township which is said to be in the East Madi
Wildlife Reserve and parts of Zoka Central Forest and discovered that a petrol
station belonging to Stabex and a telecommunication mast belonging to
MTN-Uganda had been erected in the area.
Emmy Daniel Ojara is a young journalist and has been practicing since 2013, during which he covered land rights violation in the contested Apaa and Lakang in Amuru as his first take ups while at Gulu Fm, Favor Fm and later Paidha Fm and Speak Fm where he is still attached.
Human rights abuses and denied access to land by security and government agencies has been the major aftermath of the contest over the lands. The underprivileged such as women, children and the elderly faced challenges in accessing soc