BY JOACKIM KULE
Sixty six people from the Railway Ward in the Central Division of Kasese Municipality who have allegedly encroached on the boundaries of Queen Elizabeth National Park will be evicted to pave way for the construction of an electric wire fence in the area.
The development was revealed today afternoon by the Kasese Resident District Commissioner, Lt. Joe Walusimbi while addressing the affected persons during their meeting that was held at St. Phillips Galilee Church of Uganda located in Kikonzo Cell.
Lt. Walusimbi revealed that after several interventions with the relevant stakeholders, the District Security Committee that sat on November 09, 2023 resolved that all the people who have encroached on the said boundaries should be evicted with immediate effect so that the Uganda Wildlife Authority proceeds with its work of erecting an electric wire fence along the park boundaries.
He categorically put it clear that the affected persons would not be compensated.
The RDC used the same platform to announce to the general public that the Uganda Railway Corporation would also evict the people who have allegedly encroached on its land in Kasese Municipality.
Addressing the same meeting, Mr. Patrick Bushendich, a Legal Officer for the Uganda Wildlife Authority attached to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, revealed that on February 02, 2023, they made an assessment and discovered that the alleged encroachers had occupied 2.5 kilometers of land belonging to the National Park and had established some structures, brick making projects and removed one pillar showing the boundaries of the park land.
According to the Legal Officer, on August 15, 2023, the Kasese Municipality Member of Parliament, Ferigo Kambale wrote to the Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority pleading that the affected persons be pardoned since they had already constructed their structures on the land in question.
But on August 17, 2023, the Executive Director responded to Hon. Kambale’s request in writing that it was an imperative for the affected persons to start evicting themselves to allow a peaceful process of erecting an electric wire fence as a way of curtailing the wildlife conflict. The same letter also indicated that the erection of an electric wire fence would not take place unless the people have been evicted.
The Central Division leadership also on August 21 wrote to the Chief Warden of the protected area requesting him to continue fencing the part using the existing area and suggested that UWA leave the occupants aside.
Subsequently, the Executive Director for UWA wrote to the Chief Warden directing him to work closely with the leadership of Kasese Municipality and Karusandara Sub-county in sensitizing the people to leave the way for the erection of an electric wire fence.
Mr. Martin Safari, the Central Division Chairperson, who sympathized with the victims, advised them not to allow anybody who might demand for money in disguise of helping them to seek pardon from government.
The retired Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Thembo Nzerebende, appealed to the affected persons to willingly accept losing their property for the sake of preventing the wild beasts from encroaching on the community land and destroy people’s crop gardens and lives.