Hoima – The feud between Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and NEMA has taken a new twist with kingdom rejecting approval for Sugarcane growing in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.
Bunyoro Kitara kingdom rejected the approval of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the 21.54 square miles carved out of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve for sugarcane growing.
On August 14, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) cleared Hoima Sugar Limited to change the land use from forestry to sugarcane growing, among other activities.
This has sparked off protests from civil society organisations and the kingdom of Bunyoro.
“Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has learnt through the media that NEMA has approved the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report for Buhaguzi block 2 plot 216,” said Francis Mugerwa, the kingdom’s information minister.
Mugerwa said the NEMA executive director sent a copy of the report, dated May 11, to the kingdom’s prime minister.
The prime minister wrote back to the NEMA executive director, Dr Tom Okurut, on June 22, asking him to halt the reviewing of the ESIA report until Bunyoro Kitara kingdom (the landlord) concludes negotiations with Hoima Sugar (tenant) on how to resolve the matter.
NEMA did not give Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom any feedback in this regard and went ahead to approve the ESIA without considering the input of the kingdom, which is the landlord and key stakeholder, said Mugerwa.
He added that on August 21, the kingdom wrote to NEMA, expressing dismay that an approval was issued to Hoima Sugar without kingdom’s input.
He indicated following engagements between Bunyoro Kingdom and the water and environment minister, the kingdom was informed that the ministry had received funds to conduct boundary demarcation for Bugoma Forest to ensure it is not encroached on during developments.
“It is, therefore, surprising that NEMA has approved the report before the demarcation is conducted,” Mugerwa said.
Details of the NEMA decision show that it cleared Hoima Sugar Limited to cultivate sugarcane on 9.24 square miles in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, Kikuube district in western Uganda.
NEMA also allowed the sugar firm to establish an urban centre on 1.26square miles and an eco-tourism centre on 1.97 square miles and restore on 3.13 square miles of Bugoma.
The top government watchdog on environment also ordered Hoima Sugar to preserve 0.156 hectares for the cultural site and conserve 6.17 square miles as a natural forest. This totals to 21.54 hectares of land (approximately 22 square miles) or 5,579 hectares.