Kigezi leaders up in arms over evictions in swamps

By Moses Agaba

Several leaders in the District of Kabale and Rubanda are up in arms over the government’s recent campaign to restore wetlands, which has resulted in forced eviction and the destruction of crop gardens and trees.

On 8th October last year, during a televised national address at Nakasero state lodge ahead of Uganda’s 61st Independence Celebration, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni directed the Internal Security Organization-ISO and other local authorities to protect wetlands from encroachers, that he would soon issue an executive order against encroachment.

In the directive, the president instructed ISO and other local authorities, including Parish Chiefs, Sub-county Chiefs, Resident District Commissioners, and Chief Administrative Officers, to ensure strict protection of wetlands.

 

President Museveni noted that 200 meters from the lake shores and 100 meters from the riverside must be left vacant to allow bushes to grow in them.

Now several leaders in Kigezi region are up in arms over the government’s recent campaign to restore wetlands, which has resulted in forced eviction and the destruction of crop gardens and trees.

Nelson Nshangabasheija, the Kabale LC5 boss is calling for a systematic compensation procedure for wetland users in Kigezi region, before they are told to vacate the wetlands, saying that wetland situation in Kigezi region is a unique one.

However, appearing on the Orukiiko political show on Voice of Kigezi FM  in Kabale  on Saturday , Nshangabasheija, noted that those implementing the Presidential directive, have rushed it without first notifying the affected residents to the extent that of destroying their crop gardens, tree plantations and livestock farms among others.

He added that there should a compensation plan, for people who have been using the wetlands like coming up with other sources of livelihoods, saying that short of that, the people of Kigezi region and Kabale in particular will die.

“people of Kigezi region have since time in memorial been using wetlands for their source of livelihoods, and thereby am  calling on President Museveni  to treat the wetland situation in Kabale and Kigezi region as unique and find other means of handling it”. Said Nshangabasheija.

Steven Ampaire Kasyaba, Rubanda LC5   chairperson condemns the cutting down of people’s crops in the name of implementing the Presidential Directive saying that the actions of NEMA and the Natural Resources office, asserting that it deviated from the president’s directives.

Moses Kamuntu, the Rubanda County West Legislator, deemed the incident a tragic violation of the president’s directive on wetland restoration.

He disputes the destroyed areas being part of the designated wetland and announced the intention to pursue legal action for justice and compensation.

Kamuntu declared that such acts of destroying people’s gardens without proper sensitization will not be tolerated.

He revealed plans to seek justice and compensation through legal proceedings.

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