The Uganda Wildlife Authority has refuted reports that their board chairman directed people living illegally in Mount Elgon National Park to evict before the 2016 campaigns.
This is after a local newspaper published on Tuesday that UWA Board chairman Mr. Benjamin Otto did direct staff to evict the people who are settled in area.
“In the Daily Monitor … Issue number 203 dated 22nd July,2014 on Page 19, under the title “Wildlife body defies Museveni on Elgon park evictions” it is alleged that the UWA Board chairman Mr. Benjamin Otto did direct staff to evict the people who are settled in Mt. Elgon National Park illegally by 2016″.
However, in a statement released Tuesday, UWA says it is true the Board members and members of top management spent five working days in the conservation area on a familiarization tour between July 14th -18th,2014 but their board chairman was misquoted to have said the above.
“The reporter this time misrepresented the chairman UWA Board of Trustees Mr. Benjamin Otto when he (reporter) quoted him to have directed that all these people are in the park illegally and must be evicted before the national political campaigns in 2016”.
UWA says the chairman and his board members , did visit the areas degazetted from Mount Elgon National Park in 1983 to resettle the landless Benet which was eventually grabbed by other non-Benets, but the Office of the Prime Minister is leading the process to reclaim some of the land and redistribute it to the genuine landless Benets particularly in Kween and Kapchorwa Districts.
However, the authority notes that their committee in a brief report, did mention the issue of illegal claimants for the said land.
“The board chairman noted with gratitude the improved relationship between communities living near Mount Elgon National Park and UWA, and no where in his remarks …, did he make a directive on evictions before 2016 or any other period,” read the statement.
The statement also read that in fact, the board avoided addressing any groups of people who gathered around the protected area since it was not on his agenda.
“UWA respects the communities living around the protected areas and believes in working with the stake holders to follow due processes in solving attendant issues.”
The article by Daily Monitor reads that the UWA board and management are defying the President’s directive to the responsible authorities to find a solution for resettling the affected families and that UWA is tampering with the process of the land verification committee.