By Ismail Bategeka

KIKUUBE: Charcoal burners in the Bugoma Forest in Kikuube district Bunyoro subregion have been told to vacated the area to pave way for the sugarcane growing for Hoima Sugar Limited.

Amlan Tumusiime the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner engaged all charcoal burners and asked them to peacefully vacate Bugoma Forest to enable Hoima Sugar Limited grow sugarcane.

”The move to vacate the charcoal burners comes after the district authorities and the office of RDC received a letter from Hoima Sugar Limited indicating how charcoal burning in Bugoma Forest is affecting and delaying sugarcane growing in the area,” Said Tumusiime.

The presidential representative asserts that over 800 people who have beens burning charcoal in Bugoma Forest have been granted to sell off the already available charcoal and vacate the land.

Apollo Bataringaya, one of the charcoal burners, told ugreports that security personnel notified them and they converged in the area.

Godfrey Bataire who came from Kamuli district submitted that he was notified and he has already booked a space for his charcoal in Kikuube district and he is willing to vacate the land for its development.

”I came to Kikuube purposely to burn charcoal and earn a living, since the RDC has told us this land belongs to the investor, we have been told to vacate the area, and i have already booked a space where i will station and sell off my charcoal,” noted Bataire.

Hon. Francis Kazini the Member of Parliament for Buhanguzi Constituency said that politicians should not politicize the issue of ousting the charcoal burners from the Bugoma Forest.

”Politicians should not politicize the issue of ousting the charcoal burners from the Bugoma Forest, we shall have to give them a chance to harvest their crops,” Said Kazini.

On 25th April 2019, National Forestry Authority {NFA} dragged Hoima Sugar Limited to court accusing them of encroaching on the 22squire miles of Bugoma Forest for Sugarcane growing.

Three civil society organisations had sued NEMA and Hoima Sugar challenging the Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificate issued to Hoima Sugar Ltd for sugarcane growing.S

The environmentalist had cited alleged failure of the environment watchdog to comply with the requisite legal standards.

The environmentalists argued that the ESIA certificate issued by Nema to Hoima Sugar Ltd was flawed, had procedural irregularities and did not follow the law.

However, the court ruled that NEMA sent a copy of the ESIA certificate to National Forestry Authority (NFA) and other stakeholders, who made comments about the project and which comments were addressed before the approval of the project.

The court also ruled that the different stakeholders were consulted before the certificate was approved and the standard of consultation was satisfied since it is a general principle of fairness that the consulted party is able to address the concerns of the decision-maker.

“The concerns of the stakeholders and, especially the NFA and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) were considered and this evidence is clearly set out on the court record,” the judge ruled.

The judge said it appeared the complaints were premised on distorted facts and the NGOs attempted to suppress the real facts in order to make ‘flowery’ case in court by exaggerating that the entire forest is being cleared for sugarcane planting, or that 5,000 hectares (21 square miles) of the forest is being cleared for sugarcane growing.

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