Mukono. Residents of Bugoye village, Ntenjeru Sub County in Mukono district have stepped surveillance to stop encroachment on Zirimiti Central Forest Reserve.
The residents stepped up their vigilance after about 30 men armed with machetes started clearing part of the forestland on Friday evening.
Although the residents managed to stop the encroachers, Elias Byamukama, who led the encroachers, insisted that they had secured permission from the National Forestry Authority-NFA three years ago to use part of the forest reserve land to plant eucalyptus trees.
Residents cited President Museveni’s October 2020, directive to Lieutenant Colonel Edith Nakalema, the Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate the encroachment on Namanve and Zirimiti Central Reserves and ensure encroachment is stopped forthwith.
The residents, armed with machetes and sticks have now set up roadblocks on the major routes entering the forest in addition to conducting foot patrols to fight encroachers.
David Kiyaga, the Ntenjeru Sub County LC III Chairperson, says in their meeting with Col. Nakalema and NFA team, it was agreed that the land should be used by locals through planting indigenous trees as well as planting suitable crops.
One of the residents, Mike Ssevume says forest rangers have been bitter whenever residents try to collect firewood in the forest. He, however, wonders how they could just look on as unknown encroachers takeover the forestland.
The Bugoye LC I Vice-Chairperson, Ronald Ssekankya says many people take over the forest land even without introducing themselves to the local leaders.
The Officer in Charge-OC of Ntenjeru Police Station, Gilbert Kawere says they have summoned Byamukama to prove that he secured permission to use the forest land.
Kawere says that they have also deployed intelligence to avoid likely chaos in the area.
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