Residents want constitution amended to protect wetlands and forests

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Stumps of trees that had been cut down for charcoal burning in Mabira Forest. Photos: Mukasa Kivumbi, Bukedde/NECJOGHA

By Mukasa Kivumbi, Bukedde/NECJOGHA

Lugazi, Uganda – Residents of Buikwe district in central Uganda want the country’s 1995 constitution amended in order to protect wetlands and forests.

They also accused the government officials of destroying the environment noting that they cut down trees and transport timber in the presence of army officers. They castigated the government for poor service delivery, corruption, mistreatment, uncalled for arrests and land grabbing in the country.

Local government officials and police raid a part of Mabira Forest which had been destroyed by encroachers Photo Credit: Mukasa Kivumbi

“There are politicians in this country who are untouchable who are destroying wetlands and forests and forcing people off their land using the military,” the residents said.

The leaders were speaking at the dialogue, held by Uganda National Dialogue (UND), in Ngongwe Sub County, Buikwe District that involved local council leaders, councilors, teachers, different political party leaders as well as residents. UND was led by Retired Bishop of the Adventist Church, Dr. John Kakembo.

Members of UND listening to view of the residents at Ngogwe. Standing on the left is Dr. Kakembo.

The residents gave the example of Mabira Forest in their district which they said has almost been destroyed except a few trees on the road and the people cutting the trees are guarded by soldiers.

Dr. Kakembo thanked the residents for giving their views and promised that whatever they have collected is not a waste of time but they will make sure they are implemented.

Bishop Joshua Lwere, who is also a member of UND said has kicked off with the dialogue in Buikwe District with the intention of interacting and asking the citizenry what they think of creating a Uganda they want.

A local government official heads to a place where charcoal was being burnt. Photo Credit: Mukasa Kivumbi

“We are focusing on eight themes namely; national values consensus; national diversity consensus; national political consensus; consensus on constitutionalism and rule of law; national consensus on land, land justice and access to natural resources; national consensus on minimum standards of public service delivery; national consensus on the structure of the economy that works for every citizen; and a national consensus on implementation modalities,” Lwere explained.

A local government official points to a mound of soil where charcoal is being burned. Photo Credit: Mukasa Kivumbi

The UND kicked off a tour in five districts including Buikwe, Luuka, Katakwi, Gulu and Kabalore. It will also reach out to one sub-county in each district.

 

 

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