Environmental activists under the umbrella ‘Save Bugoma Forest Campaign 2020’ have urged the general public to boycott Hoima Sugar and other products produced by Hoima Sugar limited as a way of sabotaging the company’s decision to plant sugarcane in some part of Bugoma Forest.
According to the activists, despite the outcry from the civil society and the general public, Hoima Sugar Ltd is already rapidly shaving down 21 square miles of the forest to plant sugarcane fronting ESIA certificate issued by NEMA that which we are challenging in court.
“We urge all Ugandans, the traders, the banks, markets and the world at large NEVER to buy Hoima Sugar and other products because the owners have adamantly chosen to cut down the forest and plant the deadly sugar cane that is known to accelerate diabetes and other related diseases. We don’t need any more Sugar in Uganda because we have enough,” stated a joint statement released on Sunday 27th 2020.
The activists further urged churches, schools, mosques and others to identify, despise and not allow Hoima Sugar owners and their associates in their communities.
“Isolate Hoima Sugar people to show them that they are enemies of nature and the enemies of the people of Uganda. We call on the media not to allow Hoima Sugar Ltd any space. We also want to urge Uganda Police, the UPDF and other security agencies including private security groups that they should be true nationalists by protecting the interest of Ugandans first who are agitating to Save Bugoma forest other than protecting the investor who is destroying the forest and intimidating Ugandans. Ugandans, pay you salaries and therefore you should not turn your guns against the citizens,” said Dickens Kamugisha, the executive director, AFIEGO one of the organisation that are fighting to save the forest.
On the 17th September, 2020, Hoima central police station OC Mpabaisi Tomson Tom arrested three journalists Joshua Mutale, Venex Watebawa and Samuel Kayiwa) after they entered to visit the forest. On 18th the same officer arrested 5 journalists who had gone to his office to follow-up on the arrest of the 3 veteran journalists.
“Mpabaisi claimed that he has orders from above to detain the journalists and NGOs who were later released on Police Bond with holding fake charges and others were released without even being informed of the offences they had committed. We suspect that the police in Hoima has been compromised by Hoima sugar Ltd and we are closely watching their dealings and relationship,” Kamugisha said
The 900 hectares out of 2,223 acres of Bugoma Forest Reserve was leased to Hoima Sugar Company Ltd by the administration of Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom in 2016 for 99 years at a shs 3b. Solomon Iguru Gafabusa, king of the ancient kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara said the leased area was ancestral land and not part of the protected forest.
Bugoma Forest is home to 23 species of animals, including an estimated 550 highly endangered chimpanzees, Ugandan mangabeys (an endemic primate), 225 species of birds and 260 species of trees.