• Mon. May 23rd, 2022

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Uganda’s cabinet has approved the cancellation of 420 land titles. According to the Minister of Lands, Ms Judith Nabakooba, most of the land titles issued and scheduled for cancellation are in wetlands and central reserve forests, especially in the districts of Wakiso and Mukono.

Although it is illegal to possess a land title of a reserved area, investigations have revealed that most individuals or companies that possess land titles in the forest reserves or wetlands got them with the knowledge of the National Forestry Authority – NEMA.

The cabinet has therefore approved the investigations against government officials who issued the land titles in wetlands and forest reserves. According to the Minister, they will prosecute all those involved in the illegality.

“They gave us limited time to work out a plan of restoring the environment and to implement the cabinet resolution of cancelling land titles in wetlands and forest reserves. The president wants the environment to be restored,” Ms Nabakooba said.

The Minister, however, did not provide the exact details when the titles will be cancelled.

Last year, the National Forestry Authority sent notices to several encroachers who had titles in Namanve, Kajjansi, Kyewaga and Nonve forest reserves to vacate the lands.

Acquisitions of titles in reserve areas have affected the country for a long time, because of corruption and impunity by some government officials.

In 2018, the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in Uganda, led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, discovered that the two wetlands of Kinawataka and Namanve had approximately 562 land titles.

According to NEMA, Kinawataka and Namanve wetlands fall in the category of public reserve areas. These reserves must remain functional to filter effluent that drains from the neighbouring Bugolobi, Mbuya, Kireka and other areas before pouring into Lake Victoria.

In January 2020, former Minister of Environment, Ms Mary Kitutu, ordered the cancellation of about 200 land titles in Kinawataka and Namanve wetlands.

However, removing the people possessing titles in the wetlands and forest reserve has proved a long and challenging process.

Ms Beatrice Anywar, the Environment Minister, stated that wetlands and forests are rapidly disappearing. This tendency, which is likely to generate environmental problems, must be halted by the government.

According to Ms Anywar, Uganda’s wetland coverage has dropped from 17.5% in the early 1990s to 8.5%. The forest coverage has also dropped from 24% to 12.4%.

“All encroachers in government forests, lake shores and river banks should be evicted, and the ecosystem restored. We give encroachers time to harvest their crops and vacate. We will evict those who cannot comply,” Ms Anywar said.

The ministers’ statements echoed President Museveni’s earlier directives five years ago. President Museveni previously directed factory owners to stop building in the wetlands.

Despite the President’s directive, contractors continue to build in wetlands all over the country.

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