Residents Invade Mt Elgon National Park to Reclaim Land

1601 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
These form part of a group that was evicted in 2005 by Uganda Wildlife Authority in the four villages of Bunamoli, Bumasifwa, Nahandu and Namatyale for encroaching on Mt Elgon National Park land. A total of 214 households were affected as a result of the eviction.

Residents of Bunamoli parish in Bubyangu Sub County, Mbale district have invaded Mt Elgon National Park to repossess chunks of agricultural land which they claim belongs to them.

These form part of a group that was evicted in 2005 by Uganda Wildlife Authority in the four villages of Bunamoli, Bumasifwa, Nahandu and Namatyale for encroaching on Mt Elgon National Park land.  A total of 214 households were affected as a result of the eviction.
 
The residents had initially dragged Uganda Wildlife authority to court for forcefully evicting them from their ancestral land. The matter was subjected to mediation but both parties failed to agree.
 
This morning a group of angry villagers numbering to about 100 stormed the area to reclaim the land in contention.  Armed with pangas the residents cleared over a square kilometer of the forest before they were stopped by Police, the Army and officials from Uganda Wildlife Authority.

//Cue in; Vox pop lumasaba sound)
 
Bumali Wagooli, one the residents said they tried to regain their land since their eviction in 2005 but their action has yielded no results. He added that President Museveni told them to go back to their land in 2010 after a meeting held at Mbale state lodge in 2010.
 
In December, 2015, Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, in a meeting with residents at the Mbale district headquarters reechoed the president's directive saying UWA should follow boundaries demarcated in 1993 as opposed to the 2005 boundary.
 
The 1993 boundary indicates that the contested land belongs to residents of Bunamoli parish while the 2005 boundary shows that the land belongs to Mt Elgon National Park.  Bumali wondered why Uganda wildlife authority is still manning the contested land.
 
Another resident Simon Nasawali said they resolved to storm the park after failing through available legal means. Nasawali said they are living under abject poverty and are unable to educate their children because they have been denied their source of livelihood.

//Cue in (Lumasaba) "Gavumenti…
Cue out; ……..  banna Uganda."//

Captain John Tugume, the Mt Elgon Park Community Liaison Warden said they are still guarding the contested land because the matter is before court.
 
//Cue in; it is true….
 Cue out ….. Hear the contention."//
 
Tugume faulted the Office of the Prime Minister for delaying the reopening of the 1993 boundaries which will help address the contention.
 
//Cue in; No we are…
Cue out….. 1993 boundaries."//
 
James Shilaku, the RDC Mbale urged residents to be calm and wait for the government surveyors to determine the clear boundary.