JUST IN! Rukungiri’s Religious Leaders break silence on “illegal” evictions of Ruhinda residents from their land

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Religious authorities in the Ruhinda Sub County Rukungiri district have publicly denounced the actions taken by the Rukungiri district water and environment offices in the process of restoring wetlands.

Last week, Rukungiri district environment office backed by the police destroyed crop gardens and tree plantations in parishes of Burombe, Rwamugoma, Kicwamba and some parts of Ndere all in Ruhinda Sub County Rukungiri in a bid to restore the degraded wetlands in the district.

Over 100 homes were impacted by the clearing of over 100 acres of gardens that included sugarcane, beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, coffee, and banana plantations.

Speaking with our reporter, Rev. Fr. Nicholous Atuuhe, the parish priest of Rwamagaya, where the operation also destroyed church plantations like trees, and bananas, denounced the act, stating that the government should have first made the public aware of the situation before ambushing them in the dark.

According to Fr. Atuuhe, restoring wetlands is a wonderful idea, but because the majority of people have been using these areas for benefits and survival for a long time, the government should have a backup plan for their survival.

He went on to say that after being attacked by armed police officers and losing their belongings, individuals are now under stress.

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Ruhinda Sub County’s Rev. Canon James Busingye Archdeacon Kashenyi Archdeaconry narrated that their tree plantation was also damaged without their knowledge.

Rev. Can. Busingye urged the government to come out and explain to the people their main goal, blaming them for initiating operations without informing church leaders and stakeholders of properties that were damaged.

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Our correspondent was informed by Can. Wyclif Makky, the head teacher of Kashenyi Senior Secondary School, that the school is victims of the operation that destroyed its trees last week.

Can. Makky stated that although they uphold government rules as an organization, they question how individuals can come and cut their trees under the false pretense of being in wetlands when in fact they are not.

Bishop Robert Rwamagaya SS’s head teacher, Rugumambabi Vicent, said that because they failed to call his office for an explanation, they were unintentionally ambushed.

Rugumambabi went on to say that officials arrived and demolished the student protest plots since it was required by the present curriculum.

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The officials who organized the operation to restore the degraded wetlands in Ruhinda Sub County have demarcated the residents’ land and instructed them to remove their houses as soon as possible.

As a result, the residents of Omukishenyi Investments Trading Center, which is located in Ndere Parish, Ruhinda Sub County Rukungiri district, are currently living in fear.

Additionally, several of the victims informed our reporter that they don’t know where to go and that they would only threaten to take their kids to district headquarters so that authorities can take care of them when chatting with Atuheire Agatha, Ahimbisibwe Cleophas, and Semakula Innocent.

They now call on local leaders to step in and resolve their problems before their homes are demolished.

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Turyahabwe Bosco John a resident of Kashenyi Rwamugoma Ruhinda Sub County also revealed that although they support the NRM government and its initiatives, they are perplexed by the way Rukungiri district officials treated them, treating them as though they were not Ugandans.

According to Turyahabwe, the locals are now concerned that they could lose the land they have been farming for a long time.

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