Land probe demands assessment of Gulu varsity forest reserve project

Oct 26, 2017

The commission’s mandate is to probe efficiency of the laws, policies and processes of land registration

Justice Catherine Bamugemereire and Joyce Habaasa during the lands inquiry probe on Wednesday. Photo by Richard Sanya

The land probe team is demanding an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project for the expansion of Gulu University on 28 hectares of Gulu Central Forest Reserve, funded by African Development Bank (AfDB).

On Wednesday, one of the commissioners Dr Rose Nakayi, wondered whether the bank comprehended the EIA prior to accepting to fund the multi-billion shilling project.

Dubbed ‘Higher Education Science and Technology Project', it includes a lecture block of the bio-systems engineering department, a library under construction, multi-functional research laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment. It also has a value addition cassava processing plant, and two sports grounds.

Nakayi made the remarks when the university secretary Moses Bukenya, testified at the public hearing, in proceedings conducted at Archives and Records Centre in Kampala.

"Let me first register my disappointment. How can a faculty of environment encroach on land in a forest reserve? Before you commenced work, did your partners ask for social and environmental impact assessment?"

"We could fault the bank as well," Nakayi said, prompting Bukenya to respond, "It is true that EIA is very important and should be championed."

Justice Catherine Bamugemereire is the commission chairperson. The other commissioners are Fredrick Ruhindi, Mary Oduka Ochan, Robert Ssebunya, Joyce Gunze Habaasa, and George Bagonza Tinkamanyire.

Ebert Byenkya is lead counsel, assistant lead counsel is John Bosco Suuza, while Judiciary deputy registrar of planning and development Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya, heads the secretariat.

Commission task

The commission's mandate is to probe efficiency of the laws, policies and processes of land registration, acquisition, administration and management.

It is also tasked with inquiring the effectiveness of the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) in administering public land and relevant bodies in the reservation of wetlands, forests, road reserves, and national parks, among other gazetted spaces.

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