Barifa Forest Controversy Continues

1225 Views Arua, Uganda
Arua Municipal Council is reallocating land in Barifa Forest Reserve just a year after it was degazetted and leased to a private developer. The forest was leased to a Russian company despite numerous protests from residents, politicians and environmentalists. Romano Matua, the LC3 chairperson of Arua Hill Division where the forest is located, says the reallocation of land was prompted by dissatisfaction in the way the Central Government handled the matter. He says if anyone should benefit from degazetting the forest, it should be the people who live and work in the area. Matua says his division will open roads and distribute the land to people with a real development agenda. //Cue in: "We are shocked ..." Cue out: "... total abuse."// Swale Buga, LC5 chairperson for Arua Hill Division, accuses the Central Government of grabbing the forestland. He claims to have information that some people close to President Yoweri Museveni are involved in the matter and they intend to use the property for private gain. Buga says the people of his division are ready to defend their ownership of the land to the end. //Cue in: "The law is clear ..." Cue out: "... to defend this land."// The Arua Resident District Commissioner Ibrahim Abiriga is at the center of the storm. He allegedly worked with the President's brother, General Salim Saleh to degazette the property. Abiriga warns against plans to reallocate the property. He calls on the municipal council to weight for parliament to debate the matter. ###