Over 20,000 community members living around Bugoma forest in Hoima and Kikuube districts have petitioned President Museveni over the forests give away.
In their petition, aggrieved residents have asked the president to use his executive powers to stop the ongoing destruction of Bugoma forest by Hoima Sugar Ltd.
They argue that the destruction of Bugoma, other forests as well as other critical ecosystems such as wetlands, lakes, rivers, national parks, game reserves and others are as a result of corruption in government.
The communities are also calling on the president to investigate the Ministry of Lands, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Forestry Authority (NFA), and other officials who by commission or omission have abetted the destruction of the forest.
This is the second time the communities are seeking the president’s intervention.
It should be recalled that a piece of land neighbouring Bugoma Forest that is managed by National Forestry Authority was given away to Hoima Sugar Limited to grow sugar canes and National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) cleared the project.
In May this year, the Uganda Law Society and other non-profit organisations such as Environmental Shield Limited and Resource Rights Africa Limited petioned the High Court Civil Division seeking to save the forest.
The petitioner accused Hoima Sugar Limited of cutting down trees on part of Bugoma forest land to grow sugar canes without first obtaining express approvals from Uganda Wild Life Authority, National Forestry Authority and Kikuube district as required by the project approval certificate vide NEMA/ESIA 13709.
They argued that cutting down of the trees does not only lead to environmental degredation but also contravenes various provisions of the 1995 constitution, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Act 2019, African Charter and United Nations guiding principles on business and Human Rights.
The respondents in this case were government Attorney General, Hoima Sugar Limited, Martin Aryagaruka and NEMA.
However in the ruling, justice Musa Sekaana determined that NEMA issued the assessment limited the size so that forest is not affected.