Hoima Resident District Commissioner Jean Kaliba is among individuals in Kabarole district who have encroached on the banks of River Mpanga and on wetlands. The list follows an audit carried out by the Kabarole district natural resource department and KANCA, an association that brings together Non-Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations in the district.
The encroachers also include district officials and businessmen.
RDC Kaliba set up a farm in a wetland in Kabale, Kibiito Sub County. Abigaba Salvatore, the Kabarole District veterinary Officer, encroached on a wetland in Karago town council, Kichwamba Sub County, while Elly Nyakaana, a businessman in Bukuku Sub County and Richard Nyakaana, the former district secretary for production and Natural Resources, also encroached on a wetland.
The others are the head of the Tooro royal clan, Charles Kamurasi, George Begumisa, a businessman and Allan Kawaya, the proprietor of Allan Resort Maguru in Fort Portal Municipality.
The list follows a survey that was carried out by the Kabarole district natural resource department and KANCA, an association that brings together Non-Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations in the district.
Releasing the list in Fort Portal on Wednesday, Peter Byakuyamba, the Research and Advocacy Officer for KANCA, said the district environment department together with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) are not doing much to protect the environment, despite several appeals to take action against the encroachers.
Elijah Biryabarema, the deputy RDC Kabarole claims that encroachment is rampant because individuals connive with NEMA and officials from the natural resources department.
Biryabarema wants the environment office to be well facilitated with enough funds to enable it enforce environmental laws.
In each financial year, the natural resources department is allocated 700 million shillings of which 300 million is for the environment office to carry out activities including planting trees, sensitization and enforcement of environmental laws.
The district environment officer Kabarole, Geoffrey Ruyonga says that the named individuals have time and again failed to respond to notices of vacating the encroached areas.
Ruyonga says last month the district environment officials uprooted Charles Kamurasi’s trees, which he had planted in a wetland, but three days later he planted more trees.
He says that the natural resources department has started a campaign in which after every three months, it will name and shame individuals who are degrading the environment and the list will be distributed to the media in the district.
Ruyonga states that they have tried to take the encroachers to courts of law, but the cases have dragged on for years.
According to Ruyonga, between 2007 and 2011, about 25% of the banks of River Mpanga have been encroached on.
The named individuals have not yet commented on the story.