Kibaale District has banned village chairpersons from issuing citizens with identity cards, saying the move is intended to wipe out criminals from the central forest reserves.
This comes at a time when encroachers on Kangombe Forest Reserve attacked a UPDF soldier attached to National Forestry Authority. “There has been an illegal exercise of issuing citizen identity cards by un-gazzated village chairpersons where we suspect some the beneficiaries to be criminals,” said Mr Samuel Kisembo, the Kibaale Resident District Commissioner.
On Wednesday, Mr Kisembo, who also chairs the district security committee, warned village chairpersons against issuing identity cards, saying they had no mandate and powers to conduct such an exercise.Kibaale has for long been a safe haven for hundreds of immigrants mostly from Rwanda and southern Uganda. However, these have been accused of encroaching on gazetted forests and reserves.
Mr Kisembo condemned the incident of encroachers attacking a security officer attached to National Forestry Authority yet they are entrusted with the power of protecting and preserving forest reserves.He cautioned village chairpersons along Kangombe and Ruzaire forest reserves not to involve themselves in illegal land deals.The Kagadi NFA sector manager, Mr Bruce Amanya, said Kibaale is bound to lose more forest cover if encroachers do not respect a recently issued court order by Justice A.C Owinyi-Dollo, which directed the authority to open up all boundaries of reserves.
A court order dated February 19,2014 permitted NFA to open up all boundaries. The order prohibited erecting of new structures and opening new gardens in forest reserves.Last year, the Minister for Water and Environment directed NFA to evict all forest encroachers in the districts of Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo and Kibaale.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor