Thursday, 13 December 2012

Parliament probes dispute between residents and park

News By E-Society Kasese
Story By Bridget Karungi

Posted  Wednesday, December 12  2012 at  02:00
In Summary
Land wrangle. The move follows a petition filed by residents neighbouring Semiliki National Park, who accuse the latter of displacing them from their land.

The parliamentary Committee on Tourism Trade and Industry is investigating a land dispute involving Kabarole residents and Semiliki National Park.
This follows a petition filed by residents to the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, accusing park authorities of displacing them and demarcating their land.
The residents, through Mr Boaz Kafuda, the Busongora South MP, said more than 1,878 people in Kijura Town Council and Hakibaale Sub-county in Kabarole District had been evicted.
They also claimed that about six people in Katunguru Village, Kasese District had been killed by stray animals from Queen Elizabeth National Park in less than a year.
Last week, an eight-member team led by Burahya County MP Stephen Kagwera visited Kijura, Hakibaale and Kicwamba sub-counties and spoke with wildlife officials.
Mr Kagwera said the visit was to verify the merit of the petition as directed by Ms Kadaga.
In a meeting held at Katunguru Fishing Village, the residents said they left the area in 2000 after being attacked by ADF rebels.
The Hakibaale Sub-county chairperson, Mr Edson Businge, told the legislators that after the rebels left the area, the wildlife officials blocked residents from re-accessing their land, saying it belonged to the park.
The conservation body erected pillars and warned residents against encroachment.
The residents also said animals from the park always attack their gardens and homes leading to loss of lives and property. They appealed to the government for help.
The chairperson Kijura Town Council, Mr Nayera Manyindo, said they were facing a food shortage as they do not have land to farm.
The lawmakers said they would report their findings to Parliament for possible action.
However, the Kibaale Conservation area manager, Mr Edward Asalu, said land boundary disputes would be solved locally.

He asked the residents to hire private surveyors and if found that the park encroached on their land, then the demarcations would be revised according to the law.