The Select Committee investigating the illegal de-gazettement and irregular allocation of Nonve Forest Reserve in Buwanuka Parish, Kakiri Sub-county in Wakiso District started hearing submissions from witnesses beginning Tuesday 14th April 2015.
Hon. Felix Okot Ogong , the Committee Chair, tasked the Chief Petitioner Hon. Gilbert Bukenya who is also Busiro North Member of Parliament where the contested Forest Reserve is located to substantiate his claims with specific reference to the current status of Nonve Forest Reserve; the purported degazettement of the forest and his proposed recommendations to the Committee.
Professor Bukenya who made his submission on oath, testified that, the first tampering of Nonve forest Reserve happened in 2009 when the policy on afforestation using private sector was introduced.
“I remember coming to Parliament in 2009 complaining about a natural forest being replaced by eucalyptus trees, it was cancelled, we saved it then,” Hon. Bukenya said.
“This second grabbing is extremely crucial especially for our country,” Professor Bukenya added.
Professor Gilbert Bukenya who explained in detail how the forest reserve land was grabbed, expressed his displeasure at the people who don’t value or know the importance of conserving such a natural resource.
Hon. Okot Ogong the Chairperson of the Select Committee investigating the purported illegal de-gazettement of the forest reserve pledged to move very fast to beat the April 28th deadline set for the Committee.
Okot promised that despite the tight deadline, the Committee would meet other stakeholders.
The other parties include Hon. Rosemary Seninde, MP Wakiso District; Wakiso District Land Board; National Forest Authority officials; Wakiso Land Surveyor and Land Registrar; concerned citizens; persons who claim customary ownership of the land in question, and the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development.
The committee will also undertake a fact finding field visit to the disputed forest to familiarize and furnish members with issues on the ground.
On 26th March 2015, Parliament passed a Resolution to set up a Select Committee to investigate the illegal de-gazettement and irregular allocation of Nonve Forest Reserve.
Subsequently, on 1st April 2015,the Speaker named Members of the Select Committee composed of Hon. Anywarach Joshua, MP Padyere county; Hon. Balikudembe Mutebi MP Busiro South; Hon. James Kakooza MP Kabula county; Hon. Robinah Nabbanja MP Kibaale district and Hon. Felix Okot Ogong as Chairperson of the Committee.