Court dismisses Bugoma forest case

High Court in Kampala has dismissed a case in which Uganda Law Society (ULS), the Environment Shield Ltd and Resource Rights Africa Ltd sued Hoima Sugar Ltd, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Attorney General and Martin Aryagaruka over the destruction of Bugoma forest in Kikuube District in favour of sugarcane growing.

In their suit, the applicants cited 23 reasons against the respondents arguing that NEMA’s omission and non-adherence to the mandatory principles of environment management prior to project approval, lack of any meaningful public participation or consultation of such key stakeholders about clearing of the forest and overlooking adequate biodiversity analysis and lack of adequate and diverse expert input from foresters, taxonomists, hydrologists, agriculturalists, economists and soil scientists among other experts were illegal.

Through their lawyers Mr Shafir Hakeem Yiga and Mr Eron Kiiza, the applicants also argued that the respondents’ Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) omission of a climate change impact analysis and their conduct of the ESIA for land use change on the protected area land comprised in plot 216 block 2 Buhaguzi county of Kikuube district to primarily sugarcane growing were all incompatible with their duties to create, maintain, enhance, respect, protect and promote the right to a clean, healthy, safe and decent environment.

They also argued that besides violating Ugandans’ right to a clean, healthy, safe and decent environment it was a threat to and a violation of the right of Ugandans to be fairly heard in environmental decision making and meaningful participation.

In their file, the applicants wanted court to impose orders halting activities, environmental degradation and pollution Hoima Sugar Ltd is doing on the project area and also an order for appropriate environmental restoration against Hoima Sugar Ltd.

However, the respondents’ lawyers Mr Peter Kauma, Mr Esau Isingoma, M/S Sarah Naigaga and Senior State Attorney, Ms Maureen Isang objected to the effect that the matter had been adjudicated by a competent court and could not be pursued further by the same parties, an abuse of court process and the application did not disclose a cause of action against some respondents among others.

In his ruling dated July 12, 2022, Justice Emmanuel Baguma, upheld the preliminary objection raised by counsel for the respondent; thus, dismissing the case with no costs given that the matter is of public interest.

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Abitegeka Gerald

The News Editor ,Reporter at Kagadi Kibaale community Radio

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