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NFA Permits FPU To Set up Temporary Headquarters in Kitubulu Forest

Our reporter has also seen a September 21, 2021 letter from the NFA Executive Director Tom. O. Okello granting the FPU commanding officer, Lt. Col Dick Kaija space on Gudda NFA land in Entebbe. He was responding to Kaija's September 15, 2021 letter, in which he made a request for space to set up their headquarters.
Scanned copy of NFA letter permitting establishment of FPU headquarters in Kitubulu Forest Reserve

Audio 4

The National Forest Authority-NFA has authorised the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU to set up temporary headquarters and storage facilities for impounded boats in Kitubulu Forest Reserve. 

The enforcement officers inside Kitubulu forest reserve revealed this after Maria Assumpta Nakamya, an environment activist posted a video of unknown developers fencing off part of the forest land with iron sheets early this week. 

Nakamya alias Mama Nalubaale also reported the issue to NFA. She also alerted NFA about an unknown developer who had erected a concrete fence inside the same forest reserve last month. NFA and police stopped the development and removed the concrete pillars.

To date, the developer remains unknown and no arrests have been made. On Thursday morning, Nakamya visited the site to confirm whether or not the development had stopped.

However, a team of NFA staff and army officers in Kitubulu informed her that the developer is the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU under UPDF. Gazetted in 1932, Kitubulu Forest Reserve covered 80 hectares and is currently divided by Entebbe Express highway. 

Our reporter has also seen a September 21, 2021 letter from the NFA Executive Director Tom. O. Okello granting the FPU commanding officer, Lt. Col Dick Kaija space on Gudda NFA land in Entebbe. He was responding to Kaija's September 15, 2021 letter, in which he made a request for space to set up their headquarters.

However, Okello listed six conditions for granting this permission, including that the NFA land given is part of Kitubulu  Central Forest Reserve-CFR,  and that "this permission is valid for only one year and can be revoked with short notice if the area is required for the implementation of forest management activities."

Okello says that NFA will also determine and map out the site before FPU establishes a storage space "all storage structures must be temporary in nature and no permanent structures allowed in the forest reserve". 

He also noted that " no other activity (e.g hunting, logging, cultivation, sand, gravel mining, animal rearing or charcoal-burning) other than those directly related to your request to enable you to enforce fisheries laws should be carried out in the CFR without a license from NFA."

Deogratious Sentiba, the FPU spokesperson has confirmed the development. He says NFA gave FPU space within the forest reserve at the request of its commander Lt. Col Dick Kaija. The headquarters will have offices for the commander, investigation officer, administrator and spokesperson among other officers. 

Sentiba however says that FPU cannot set up the structures at the moment because one Hajji Hussein claims he has a title for 35 acres of land in Kitubulu, including inside the forest reserve.

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Sentiba says that FPU  will comply with the conditions that include setting up temporary structures.

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However, Nakamya notes that the developer has not fenced off the area with eco-friendly materials and instead used iron sheets. Sentiba says this is temporary, adding that they will remove the iron sheets when the construction works are complete.

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But Nakamya says FPU should rethink its stance on fencing with iron sheets. 

Charles Magumba, the Town Clerk of Entebbe municipality, says he is not aware of the development. "NFA has not informed my office about permitting developments inside Kitubulu Forest Reserve. We need to know about this development. But NFA must monitor its resources closely because they are the custodians," Magumba said. 

Nakamya urges NFA to always inform residents and local authorities about such developments to avoid unnecessary conflicts and tension. She is however optimistic that FPU's presence will result in the protection of Kitubulu forest reserve from encroachment. 

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Nakamya, who was a  councillor at Entebbe Municipal Council for 15 years, says that Hajji Hussein and many other people claiming to have titles for land in Kitubulu forest reserve are making false claims because they have not been forthcoming with the said land titles. 

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Kitubulu Forest Reserve is a community initiative. The community has planted the trees in the reserve from the 1930s to protect property such as homes, shops and other structures from flooding and strong wave activity from Lake Victoria.

About FPU

Established in 2019 to crack down on illegal fishing activities and other crimes on water bodies across Uganda, FPU is under the Uganda People's Defense Forces-UPDF. It currently has detaches in various places including Kigungu and Bugonga in Entebbe, Kalangala and Ntoroko among other areas.