Companies, Individuals to lose land as NFA moves to reclaim forest land
The National Forest Authority- NFA has started the process of reclaiming degraded forest land, following a move by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development which summoned registered proprietors of 475 land titles allegedly issued in central Forest Reserves across the country for a hearing.
According to the Ministry, the summoned persons are expected to present their documents to defend their ownership for the contested plots of land at the hearing starting September 24 to November 4 at the Ministry’s Zonal offices at Wakiso, Mukono and Mpigi.
The move followed complaints by the Executive Director of the NFA concerning the titles issued on the forest reserves of Kyewaga in Entebbe, Namanve, Mugomba, Kitubulu Central Forest Reserve, Nonve Central Forest Reserve and Kajjansi.
It is alleged that the titles were issued to individual developers as well as companies and they have since cleared the forests to establish the developments while others have since changed the land use. The developers have since deployed armed guards or workers at the disputed areas.
Some of the companies that have been summoned include; East Africa Heavy Machinery Limited with a title at Bukasa-Kirinya, Bouch Uganda Limited holding a freehold title Mash Investments Limited and C& G Andijes group limited all holding titles at Namanve Central Forest Reserve.
In Kitubulu Central Forest Reserve, the companies include Megha Industries and Mulkin Enterprises Ltd in Entebbe among others. The individuals include Denis Abasa, Phoebe Kiconco Abaasa, Haruna Ssemakula, and a senior UPDF officer Brig Hudson Mukasa who are holding titles in Kajjansi, Kyewaga and Namanve forest reserves.
NFA says semakula a real estate dealer, alone surveyed and curved 75 plots in Nonve Central Forest Reserve in Kakiri, Wakiso District while John Baluruno holds numerous titles in Kajjansi Forest reserve.
In June this year, Cabinet approved the cancellation of all land titles issued in wetlands and central forest reserves especially in the district of Wakiso.
The Environment State Minister Beatrice Anywar said that forests and wetlands have been disappearing at a fast rate because the trend is likely to cause problems in future. She said that the country’s forest cover has dropped from 24 percent to 12.4 percent.
Dennis Obbo, the Spokesperson of the Lands Ministry says that NFA will mention the affected forest reserves where the titles were acquired erroneously at the hearing.
Moses Muhumuza, the NFA legal manager explained that some of the titles were acquired by some people who are NFA clients after they acquired licences in the forests but fraudulently converted the licenses and applied for titles from the ministry through the Area Land Committees and the District Land Boards.