People of Kabula County, Lyantonde district have been disgruntled about a risk of losing ‘their’ land after learning that it could have been a forest reserve.
The locals, therefore, implored Judith Nabakooba, Minister of Lands, Housing and urban development, to reach out and listen to their pleas, which she did.
They wanted to know how they can acquire titles on the land claimed to be a forest and sought for the same to be de-gazzetted (if it is in fact a forest) claiming that they have stayed on it for so many years and government its self has implemented programs running like schools, hospitals among others.
The land, on which the locals claim to have lived for over 50 years, established permanent structures and acquired titles stretches to the villages of Mpumudde, Kabula, Malango, Katovu, Lwebitakuli and part of Mawogola, all in Lyantonde.
When people who claimed to have orders from National Forests Association (NFA) to do Re afforestation on the land to revive the forest, the locals resisted saying they knew nothing about a forest.
This further prompted them to sign a petition with 300 signatures and sent it through to the then Minister of Lands, Housing and urban development after which they (NFA) ceased fire.
15 years later, as the locals confessed, the Member of Parliament of Rwampala, Charles Ngabirano informed them that he was sent to open boundaries and market the ‘forest reserve’ meaning they would have to be evicted from the land. This left them with insecurity and fear of the worst.
“We implore you to be our eyes, lead us and fight for us and take our matter to the cabinet and the people in charge of issues like that to discuss it and hopefully de-gazette us so that we can finally find peace and a sense of belonging,” locals told Nabakooba.
As a reply to the locals, the Lands, housing and urban development minister promised to do her best to help them.
“As government, through the cabinet led by President Museveni, have been trying to restore natural reserves, with much emphasis on wetlands, forests, and lakes among others. The cabinet placed a committee led by Honorable Robinah Nabbanja to do that, keeping the people in mind in a way that they are not badly affected by the actions,” Nabakooba said.
She told the locals that it is not their fault that they never knew that they were in a forest since no one came to tell them about it and where it covers.
She further promised see a way of harmonizing the issue at hand, since it has taken a long period of time by doing what she can and presenting their matter to the cabinet in charge.
“I will ask the Ministry of Water to give us coordinates and ask to come on ground to assess the forest and where it is and make a status report to make an informed conclusion,” she said.
She also asked for different photocopies of reports and titles to help in assessing the matter with cabinet for proper feedback and thanked the locals for picking leaders that care about them, telling them to trust what they are able to do since the answer still lies with Honarable Nabbanja and President Museveni.
The land in question has more than 10,000 residents (according to an article in the Daily Monitor on February 12, 2019) in addition to different establishments such as Lwambula Seed School, Mpumudde Primary School, Kalyamunu Primary School (all government schools) and Mpumudde Health Center 3 among others.