By Spy Ugandan
A Ugandan environmental activist John Robert Turyakira has dragged the government of Ugandan to regional East African Court of Justice in a bid to rescue the perishing Bugoma forest reserve which government handed over to foreign sugar cane investors.
In a suit filed by Environment Shield Limited and Turyakira before the court, “The project area neighbours Bugoma central forest reserve which was gazette in 1932, tropical high forest and home to over 600 chimpanzees and is part of its ecosystem. Sugarcane growing has adverse environmental and climate change impacts including pollution of water bodies, rivers and streams soiling water quality.”
The activists accuse the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of ignoring the climate change impact assessment as necessitated by the dictate of contemporary environment governance pursuant to the Constitution of Uganda.
Angry petitioners add that NEMA never considered environmental costs connected with the potential deterioration of natural assets but also never carried out consultations within the communities surrounding the forest reserve.
“NEMA made the project approval without transparent, maximum and effective community or public participation or hearings in breach of the foundational principles of good governance, accountability, democracy, rule of law, transparency and universal human rights standards. The approval, therefore, threatens the area’s individuals, community’s and public’s universal human rights standards, ” Court document states.
It is against that background that the petitioners want Court to direct the government to cancel the certificate of approval issued to Hoima Sugar and also ensure that prior to any similar project approvals, it conducts climate change impact assessment and human rights impact assessment.
It is worth noting that Hoima Sugar was given nine square miles which were part of Bugoma forest to grow sugar canes, a move that has not gone well, especially with environmental conservationists, tourism enthusiasts and concerned Ugandans who value the need to conserve both natural and artificial resources aiming at retaining the beauty of their nation and curb climatic misfortunes.
The development comes after a group of environmental conservation activists under their slogan, “NO TO DEATH OF FOREST” publicly and angrily came out to mobilize Ugandans, Companies, NGOs among other stakeholders to boycott Hoima Sugar Limited products that have since been branded as a major threat to Eco-system in the country.
“Hoima Sugar Limited has ignored calls from Ugandans to stop cutting down the forest, it is very unfortunate that the company is rapidly shaving down the forest to plant sugarcanes by fronting the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate from NEMA, yet we have challenged it in court,” Environment activist Kamugisha previously said.
It should be noted that as we report this, 1.8% of Uganda’s forest cover is lost every year and in the past 20 years, 25% of the country’s forests have been cut down, as a result of sleeping leaders who seem not to be concerned about the value of conserving natural forests and other ecosystems.