300 residents oppose forest takeover plan

Mbale. More than 300 squatters of a forest reserve in Bungokho-Mutoto Sub-county, Mbale District have opposed a plan by the municipal council to extend its boundary into the area to pave way for a city status.
The LC3 chairperson of Bungokho-Mutoto, Mr Emma Watunda, said they will not allow anybody to take over the forest due to wide spread climate change conditions in the country.
“We are aware of the move municipal council is making towards getting this forest and we shall not allow this. We are also aware that this forest adds beauty to the town and given climate change effects in Uganda, we can’t allow it,” Mr Watundu said.
Ms Hadijja Namee, a farmer, said: “I see no reason to oppose the expansion of the municipality but I am afraid that the council might never plant another forest.” Residents are also demanding compensation before any activity is carried out on the land.
Mr Watunda aised the municipal council to convince surrounding sub-counties to be part of the city plan instead of destroying the forest reserve.
The town mayor, Mr Mutwalib Zandya, said although they identified land for expansion that includes two forest reserves outside the municipality, National Forestry Authority refused to de-gazzete the reserves to pave way for development.
According to reports, locals have been chasing away teams of officials from the municipality who go there to consult them about the impending project.

The numbers

1,000
Number of acres of forest land the council wants for expansion.

dmafabi@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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