More than 15,000 encroachers on Bigaaga forest reserve in Ssembabule have rejected an eviction order issued by the resident District Commissioner. On Saturday last week, a group of residents raided Bigaaga forest reserve and reclaimed part of its land to protest their eviction from Bigo Byamugenyi cultural site in Ntusi Sub County.
More than 15,000 encroachers on Bigaaga forest reserve in Ssembabule have rejected an eviction order issued by the resident District Commissioner. On Saturday last week, a group of residents raided Bigaaga forest reserve and reclaimed part of its land to protest their eviction from Bigo Byamugenyi cultural site in Ntusi Sub County. They accused Nsubuga Kiberu, Sembabule Chief Administrative Officer, Dr. Ely Muhumuza, LC5 Chairman and district council speaker Samuel Karuhanga of reclaiming part of Bigo Byamugenyi cultural site and Bigaaga Forest reserve to graze their animals.
On Monday, Kamara Bayeye, Sembabule Resident District Commissioner and DPC Abdallah Kitimbo ordered the encroachers to vacate the forest reserve in vain. They told the two officials that they will not leave the forest reserve because they have nowhere to settle. Matsiko Benezeeli, chairperson of the affected residents says that they are ready to fight to the last person because they have nowhere to go. He explains that after their eviction from Bigo Byamugenyi and Buteraniro Dam they have been left wandering without any place to call home.
Matsiko says that when they were being evicted from Bigo Byamugenyi cultural site they thought it was the cultural trust reclaiming the land, but they were shocked to see Dr. Elly Muhumuza, the LC 5 chairman and CAO Charles Kiberu erecting fences for their animals to graze in the reclaimed land. He says that before they settled in Bigaaga forest reserve, they found some plots fenced by unscrupulous they suspect to be district officials. Johnston Kamugisha, one of the encroachers says that they decided to occupy Bigaaga forest reserve because Government failed to allocate them alternative land for settlement.
He claims that when they were evicted from Lwemiyaga in 2003 to pave way for the construction of Ssembeguya goat farm, President Yoweri Museveni promised to allocate them alternative land for settlement but nothing has been done since then. He says that during their eviction, they lost all their plantations and animals which left them poor. Kamugisha says that they stranded without food, medical care and other basic services. Kamara Bayeye, Ssembabule RDC has appealed for calm amongst the affected people.
He explains that they have started registering the affected residents to find them an alternation piece of land for settlement. Charles Kiberu, Sembabule CAO admits buying plots in the forest reserve saying that he acquired it from the district land after the lease of the forest expired. He also dismisses claims that the disputed piece of land is a forest reserve saying that it is a thicket. Dr. Elly Muhumuza, Sembaule LC5 Chairman also claims to have bought the land.
bigaaga forest reserve eviction
sembabule district officials implicated