Conservationists have asked Ugandans to stop buying Hoima Sugar as a way to add their voices to those calling for a stop on the destruction of Bugoma national forest.
The conservationists say that their loud voices are being ignored by the proprietors of Hoima Sugar who have already embarked on razing the forest despite an application to court seeking an injunction on the destruction of the forest.
Now, Civil Society Organizations and individual conservationists under the banner of Save Bugoma Forest Campaign 2020 resolved to mobilize the business community and all Ugandans to boycott sugar and other products from Hoima Sugar Factory as a move to stop the destruction of 21 square miles of the forest.
Leading the group Dickens Kamugisha the Director Africa Institute for Energy (AFIEGO) says launching the boycott follows frustration of several efforts to stop the destruction of Bugoma Forest.
Kamugisha stresses that the outcry to stop the giving away of Bugoma Forest have not only fallen on the deaf ears of the government but also state agencies like Police and the army who have been deployed to protect those cutting down the tropical forest.
The group also asked key institutions like churches to join the struggle by identifying and isolating those behind Hoima Sugar Factory and their associates in the destruction of a natural resource that is key to the country’s ecological system.
“We urge all Ugandans, the traders, the business community and all institutions that respect nature, 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, said Kamugisha.
As they continue with the legal battles in order to save Bugoma Forest the activists called on the Judiciary to cancel the Environment Impact Assessment Certificate that was issued to Hoima Sugar Ltd by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA)
The chairperson of the Association of Conservation of Bugoma Forest, Constantino Tessarin, dismissed as excuses reasons given by police and UPDF that they are denying Ugandans access to the forest.
Tessarin says that the police and UPDF officers were guarding the forest to make it impossible for others to access it, the only reason I can give is that they were covering and protecting someone who was committing a crime of degrading a forest which started on the 31st of August2020.
However the Police and UPDF Officers said that the activists could not access the area because of Coronavirus restrictions.
“So we have government agencies informing citizens that because of the Coronavirus crisis currently is the reason they cannot access a forest yet when it is lost, it will cause more epidemics, pandemics and more crises, said Tessarin.
It is against this point that the group urged the Uganda Police and UPDF and other security agencies to be true national nationalist by protecting the interests of Ugandans first who are agitating to save Bugoma Forest other than protecting the investor who is destroying the resource that is key to bio-diversity.
Expressing fears of the consequences of cutting down a forest cover in the Albertine region, the National Coordinator Climate Network Uganda Harriet Hope Okello stressed the significance of a forest like Bugoma as the country embarks on Oil Production.
Okello says that it’s absurd that at a time when the nation is battling so much with issues of climate change, the government is coming out to destroy Bugoma forest.
As a country we have experienced lots of landslides and lots of floods. Today Uganda is running a 40 million trees planting campaign but of what value and of what sense does it bring when we are already cutting down what is available, Okello wondered.
“Hoima is an oil region, we have seen like Niger, we have seen Nigeria, we have seen them get desertification because the forest covers have been cut down. Where are the carbon emissions going to be absorbed when oil production starts?’’-Okello
According to the activists, the government has been applauded in the recent past for saving Murchison Falls, they say now is the time that the same actions must be taken by the lawmakers to protect Bugoma Forest since the country have suffered enough loss (25% of forest cover) which must be put to an end .
Okello asked, what is the use of Eco-Tourism that is being promoted? When authorities are still giving away the natural cover.
She continued to say that it’s so absurd that lawmakers have not been seen getting up to raise their voices about the matter of saving Bugoma Forest.
“I call upon the people of Bunyoro and other Ugandans to join us in boycotting this sugar, it time to raise up and fight for our children if we are to promote sustainable development that we call for,” said Okello.