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Bugoma Should not Go: Environmental Activists Urge NEMA to Halt the Sale of Bugoma Forest

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Environmental activists led by Climate Action Network-Uganda (CAN) have expressed their utmost concern in regards to the sale of Bugoma Forest.

According to CAN and other organizations, Bugoma Central Forest Reserve covering over 41.144 hectares and one of the largest remaining blocks of natural forests along the Albertine rift valley, should not be tampered with.

Speaking during the press conference held at Human Rights House in Nsambya, John Mary Odoy, Climate Ambition Ambassador-Uganda cited that NEMA should be informed that once Bugoma Forest is gone, the Country stands to lose its biodiversity.

“The moment we have Bugoma turned into a sugar cane plantation, we lose our diversity, the 260 species of trees in the forest will eventually die, habitats for animals and birds including over 500 chimpanzees and 225 birds which are tourist attractions will all vanish among others,” Odoy said.

“NEMA should be aware that Ugandans are alert and that the early communication as outlined in the impact assessment report clearly states that the land has been given out for sugarcane planting and other projects. Literally, the country stands to benefit better from Bugoma Forest which brings in government revenue through the tourism sector and directly benefits the locals in the area,” he further stated.

Uganda made a commitment to address  climate change concerns which include reducing  emissions by 22% and keeping  the  temperature low and one of the contributors to the achievement of this ambition is to increase tree coverage  in order  to have  carbon gains and one key focus activity  in the  National Adaptation Plan is community  tree planting.

NEMA, on Monday August 24, issued a statement denying allegations that it sold part of Bugoma forest (21.42 square miles) to Bugoma Sugar Limited to set up a sugarcane plantation and factory.

“National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) would like to clarify the misleading stories that have been running in sections of the media purporting that the institution authorized sale of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve to Hoima Sugar Limited, for sugarcane growing,” reads part of the statement.

NEMA maintains that the 1995 environment law puts all natural resources in the care of the government for the benefit of the greater majority. For persons and entities that held titles before 1995, the Government of Uganda would have to acquire their interest or compensate them in order to protect the natural resources.

“In these circumstances, the best remedy was for NEMA to regulate permissible activities on the land whose ownership had been determined by court.

As such, different sections of the said land were legitimately approved for undertaking of legal activities including sugar cane plantation (9.24 sq. miles) on an area that was entirely grass land(not forested) and Eco-tourism Centre(1.97 sq. miles) Cultural Site(0.156 sq. miles) and the natural  reserved  forest  and nature walk-ways covering about 6.17 sq. miles among others,” the statement further indicates.

NEMA also revealed that all the fragile ecosystems within the project area including the rivers, streams, wetlands, swamps and steep hill slopes among others, shall be protected in accordance with the law and the developer is required to undertake enrichment planting on an area measuring 3.8919 sq. miles comprising the buffer zones bordering the Bugoma Central Forest, River Hohwa and its tributaries.

Hussein Kato Muyinda, the Earth and Rights Executive Director urged parliament to seriously look into the matter since it’s their constitutional obligation to protect the natural resources.

Muyinda further called upon the public to speak out on the matter and strongly condemn NEMA’s action.

“This is a total violation of human rights. As you all know, when a tree is destroyed; it’s like killing a human being.”

 



Source – chimpreports.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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