APAC, October 3, 2023 – Residents of Akokoro Sub-county in Apac district living around Maruzi Central Forest Reserve have accused the National Forest Authority [NFA] of extending the boundaries of the forest into community land.
The residents claim NFA has extended the boundaries from the original land that their grandparents donated to the government between 1967 and 1968, by more than three square kilometres.
Samuel Ogwal Oboma, the team leader of the aggrieved residents stated that at least 3,000 families have been affected while some have been displaced.
He said problems started in 1986 when some political leaders connived with NFA officials to extend the boundaries without consulting other stakeholders.
“The way the boundaries have been extended is too much, the officials of NFA deployed in the area and kept encroaching on community land,” Ogwal said.
“If this matter is not addressed, there is going to be fights. I am ready to die for my children and my grant children and the community of Akokoro,” he said.
Emmanuel Ogola, an aggrieved resident said, “Our parents gave about 52 square miles to government for the establishment of a ranch and again another 66 square miles for the forest but again they are extending the boundaries of the forest to our land.”
“Here we are, we have animals, but now we cannot graze animals in our own land, when we graze our cattle, they [NFA] bring armed men to beat us. We are going to start making use of our land,” Ogola said.
The Apac district speaker, Peter Obong Achuda, acknowledged having received a petition from the residents Akokoro Sub-county implicating the NFA of encroaching on the community land.
“I received the petition last year in February and I have instituted a committee of councilors to do fact finding, but the committee has not yet given me a report yet,” Achuda said.
The district surveyor, Bob Odyero, said their attempts to resolve the matter could not materialise since the district does not have GPS machines to demarcate the boundaries.
However, the NFA area supervisor, Juliet Auma, clarified that Maruzi Central Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1932 by the British government not as the community is claiming in 1967.
The Apac Resident District Commissioner, George Abdul, said, “I was wondering how government entity in this case NFA could encroach into community land. When I went on ground, I found more than 272 people inside the ranch.”
The RDC suggested that there is a need to open the boundaries because if the boundaries are not opened it could turn out to be dangerous to the government.
According to the NFA, Maruzi Central Forest Reserve covers 6118 hectares. Uganda has in total 506 central Forest Reserves covering 12,65,471 hectares.
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