Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has slashed crops belonging to over 500 residents in three villages in Masaba Sub County in Sironko district for alleged encroachment on Mount Elgon national park land. The affected residents are from Kusi, Ngagai, and Malara villages in Bufupa parish in Masaba Sub County.
Patrick Wabugoya, the LC III chairperson of Masaba Sub County the affected crops including carrots, cabbage, Irish potatoes, maize, and onions among others are worth hundreds of millions of Shillings. He condemned UWA for slashing the crops, saying that he is going to mobilize the affected people to sue the government for malicious damage.
Masaba Sub County LC V Councilor, Deo Nabugodi, says that in March this year people neighboring Mt Elgon national park and their area local leaders had a meeting with UWA officials where it was resolved that residents replant trees in the areas where they have been cut in the park as well use the land for farming activities.
He explains that residents started planting trees and cultivating crops as agreed but they were shocked by the malicious damages to their crops by UWA. Titus Wanya, one of the affected residents, says that he has lost over Shillings 40 million following the destruction of his Irish potatoes and cabbages. Wanya says that the destruction will affect the education of his five children since he has remained with nothing.
Isiah Sasaga Wanzira, the Budadiri East constituency member of parliament has condemned the manner in which UWA behaved, saying that he is going to follow the matter until the affected people get Justice. Sasaga promised to raise that matter on the floor of parliament and urged the government to come up with clear boundaries for the resident’s land and national park.
Frederick Kizza, the UWA manager for the Eastern and Northern regions has dismissed claims that they allowed residents to cultivate in the park. He admits that it’s true they had a meeting with the residents where the proposal was made but their bosses in Kampala rejected it. Kizza says that they will carry out similar operations in other districts neighboring the Mt. Elgon national park like Bulambuli, Mbale, Bududa, and Namisindwa where people have encroached on park land claiming that they were permitted.