By: Stephen Saik
Bukwo: Bukwo District council has petitioned government to compel Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to suspend further eviction of people who lived in Mt Elgon National Park and review the park’s boundaries. In a January 25 petition, the council is demanding that the Teryet and Kapsegek and Benet, all ethnic tribes that lived in the park before eviction by UWA, to return.
The district chairperson, Mr Nelson Manjara, said evicting them and resettling them in a camp at Kapkoros is an abuse of their rights. Mr Manjara also said whereas UWA is right to enforce eviction of encroachers, it was inhuman for them to do it without taking into consideration resettlement of the residents that had been living in the park since time immemorial.
“When you are evicted from your land which you have called home for years and bundled into a camp where there is no water, food and land for farming, it becomes an abuse of human rights. We are asking government and UWA to review the boundaries to allow the Teryet some land in the park for settlement and farming,” Mr Manjara said.
Mr Moses Mwanga, a Benet elder, said although as a council they are finding problems dealing with the Benet problem because the ethnic tribe does not have land for settlement and development, UWA has been adamant and insists they should stay away from the park.
Mr Mwanga said government should review the eviction policy; revisit the park boundaries up to 1983 to allow some land to cater for the big population.
UWA warden Adonia Bintora however, said whereas it is true government in 1983 allocated 6,000 acres of land to the Benet, Teryet, Kapsegek and Yatui to ease pressure on the park encroachment, most of the land allocated to the tribes was grabbed by chiefs and businessmen before the tribes arrived there.
“UWA authorities say whereas several surveyors have given different boundaries of the national park right from the colonial era, the defined boundary for the park stands as surveyed in 1993 and all people evicted from the park should remain out until Parliament pronounces itself on the matter,” Mr Bintora said.