Residents and leaders in Arua are demanding an explanation following the lease of a section of Barifa forest for Eco-Tourism development.
On Tuesday, the residents led by the Ayivu East MP-elect, Geoffrey Feta, delivered a petition to the National Forest Authority (NFA) Range Manager for West Nile demanding immediate cancellation of the lease offer of 10 hectares which they said is fraudulent.
According to the petition, the 49-year lease was allocated to Dennis Oguzu Lee the MP for Maracha County.
The residents in their petition have demanded an immediate reversal of the lease offer arguing that Barifa forest is awaiting degazettement which does not allow for such developments without being consulted.
Kamure Titia a resident of Arua City who is against the giveaway says that there are demanding an explanation regarding activities between NFA and the private developer.
Feta, questions why NFA has gone ahead to giveaway part of the Barifa forest which is waiting to be degazetted.
But Robert Owiny the Range Manager NFA West Nile said all those who secured business plans with NFA went through the right channel, describing the allegations of fraudulent lease as incorrect.
The concerned citizens say they will take their protest to Parliament if it’s not immediately addressed.
Barifa forest currently covers an area of 236 hectares. In 2009, the then Arua Municipal Council spent nearly a billion shillings to purchase over 250 hectares of land in Logiri Sub County to allow for degazettementof the forest for Arua Eco-City development.
Currently, West Nile has three central forest reserves including Laura in Madi Okollo, Barifa in Arua City and Kei in Yumbe district.
Leaders argue that the establishment of the Eco-City will reduce poverty levels in the Municipality and increase the clean and habitable environment. URN