Julius Bigirwa Junjura, the Buhaguzi county Member of Parliament has disagreed with the National Forestry Authority-NFA over the proposed eviction of 1500 encroachers from Bugoma Central Forestry Reserve.
In November 2011, NFA carried out a survey to retrace the park boundaries affecting over 1500 residents. Despite the fact that NFA released a report in December showing that 1500 people had encroached on the reserve land, Junjura says that he is not aware of the report as the area member of parliament.
Junjura who sits on the natural resource committee of parliament insists that he does not support encroachment but all he wants is the truth to be established before any eviction is done. Speaking to URN on phone, Junjura vowed to approach all the relevant office to block the proposed eviction. But Robert Owinyi, National Forestry Authority Kisindi sector Manager will not have any of this. Owinyi maintains that NFA’s mandate is to protect central forests from any encroachment and they cannot be derailed in anyway.
He insists the residents occupy part of the forest land and should voluntarily move or else be forced out. The NFA official also pledges to avail the MP with a copy of the survey report that found the residents illegally occupying the reserve.
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According to the survey report dated December 30, 2011 and signed by Opar BZ Wonumbe NFA’s boundary and survey specialist, of the over 2000 hectares of the reserve under encroachment, only 50 were found to be out of the reserve.
Owinyi says the authority has no problem with those settlers found to be outside the reserve. The report points out that the encroachers have gone ahead to clear the reserve for farmland, settlement and charcoal burning.