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Muzizi Forest and wetland encroachers given one-week ultimatum

By Andrew Musinguzi

Added 12th August 2019 12:00 AM

Government has invested over sh439b for the construction of the 48MW Muzizi Hydroelectric Power Station

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Residents from the sub-counties of Muhorro, Kyaterekera and Bwikara listening to Kagadi RDC Lillian Ruteraho at Kyaterekera Community Hall in Kagadi. Photo by Andrew Musinguzi

Government has invested over sh439b for the construction of the 48MW Muzizi Hydroelectric Power Station

The Kagadi district resident district commissioner (RDC), Lillian Ruteraho, has issued a one-week ultimatum for the eviction of Muzizi wetland encroachers and demarcation of the River Muzizi boundaries.

Ruteraho issued the ultimatum on Saturday during a stakeholders’ meeting for the sub-counties of Muhorro, Kyaterekera, Bwikara and Ndaiga held at Kyaterekera trading centre in Kagadi district.

She warned that all those with activities in the wetlands should vacate as soon as possible before the security team and officials from the ministry of water and environment move in to implement President Yoweri Museveni’s directive of gazetting all wetlands in the country.

‘’It is the President’s directive that all wetlands across the country should be demarcated and gazetted in addition to the eviction of encroachers. We have to implement his directive,” she said.

Ruteraho further noted that the government has invested over sh439b for the construction of the 48MW Muzizi Hydroelectric Power Station and therefore they have to protect the river and its tributaries in order to maintain the water levels for the sustainability of the project.

She explained that an estimated 150 metres are by law supposed to be left clear of the wetland boundaries. 

In the same meeting attended by the district security team and the technical staff, Hadali Kosayi the officer in charge Kagadi Central Police Station said that the Police will use the necessary force to implement the order and asked people to vacate the river before enforcement.

“Our main duty will be to enforce the President’s directive expeditiously. I call upon the affected people to vacate the gazetted areas wilfully before enforcement,” he said.

However, residents who have gardens and other activities in the river catchment areas, as well as buffer zones, expressed unhappiness with the order saying that their families will not have food once this order is implemented.

Residents who live near River Muzizi have extended their activities up to the water source, a practice threatening the survival of the river where the constructing a multi-billion dam project is to be established.

The project is to be developed by the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) covering districts of Kagadi, Kyenjonjo, Kabarole and Ntoroko at a cost of €120m, estimated to affect over 829 people.

Boaz Basigirenda, the Kagadi district National Forestry Authority sector manager, said out of the 16 forest reserves in greater Kibaale, Kangombe Central Forest Reserve which covers an estimate of 11,331ha is the most affected and that he has been at the forefront in sensitising the forest and wetland encroachers to vacate the gazetted lands wilfully but with some adamant ones arrested and prosecuted in the courts of law.

Some of the other forest reserves with wetlands encroached on greater Kibaale includes Ruzaire in Kiryanga sub-county Kagadi district, which covers 1,160ha, Guramwa Central Forest Reserve in Nkooko sub-county Kakumiro district, which covers 1,546ha and Kanaga Forest Reserve in Nyamarunda sub-county Kibaale district which covers 650ha.

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