The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) withdrew the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate it had given to Hoima Sugar Limited to grow sugarcane over abuse.
Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Dr. Barireja Akankwasah, the NEMA executive director, said on August 14, 2020, NEMA leased to Hoima Sugar Ltd nine square miles of land in the Bugoma Forest Reserve to plant sugarcane, 312 hectares to develop an urban center, 520 hectares to develop an eco-tourism center, 40 hectares for a cultural site and six square miles were to be reserved for the natural forest but their investigations reveal that the company contravened the conditions.
“in June 2022, Hoima Sugar Ltd submitted to the authority an audit report as required by the certificate. But we have also been receiving petitions from the Bunyoro Kingdom, civil society organizations, and the general public that there is continued degradation of the natural forest area, which was supposed to be left intact,” he said.
He said they investigated the matter and carried out an inspection audit of the activities in Kyangwali, Kikuube District, and came to the conclusion that there is deforestation in the eco-tourism site contrary to the approval condition.
Dr. Akankwasah said they were forced to withdraw the certificates to safeguard the environment and avoid further damage to the critically important ecosystem, which is also a habitat for endangered species.
Since 2020, the giveaway of the Bungoma forest, which is said to have originally been the property of the Bunyoro Kingdom, has been a center of controversy among Bunyoro Kingdom officials, some of whom claim the disputed land belongs to the ruling Babiito clan. Kingdom officials say the land has trees for making royal thrones, drums, and herbal tree species, among other cultural heritages.