KAMPALA – Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, was on Tuesday shocked by the massive encroachment on Namanve and Zirimiti central reserves in Mukono district.
While touring Namanve forest reserve on Tuesday, 06 October 2020, Nakalema, said President Museveni has directed her and police to investigate how surveys for land titles were held with the approval of the Lands ministry.
“We have come to find out on the ownership of the land in question in a government protected area and what claims Buganda Land Board have on this same land. We came to find out the extent of damage created by encroachers and what activities,” Lt Col Nakalema said
Last week, more than 300 people armed with pangas, sticks and metals pitched camp on the land and partitioned it into small plots. The forest, gazetted in 1932 measures more than 2,000 hectares.
The occupied land used to contain a natural forest before it was destroyed by grabbers. Later, the National Forestry Authority- NFA reclaimed the biggest section of it before leaving it to conservationists to grow eucalyptus trees. However, this did not stop various individuals from attempting to set up permanent structures claiming to have its land titles.
Information before the State House unit shows that companies among them Manga, Inter Africa, Steel and Tube, Right Move and businessman Charles Ngabirano acquired leases for the land from the Uganda Land Commission.
Mukono Division Police Commander Abubakar Musiho says that they are still carrying out investigations and compiling a list of people and companies claiming ownership of the contested land.
The NFA Namanve sector manager Michael Ojja says many people claiming the land took advantage of possessing certificates to engage in Eco-tourism activities to process land titles. He claims that many of the encroachers are being backed by some district security officials.
The NFA Executive Director Tom Obongo Okello blamed the Uganda Land Commission for issuing titles on the public land. He notes that the contested section of the forest reserve was reserved to absorb pollution from the industrial park.