Uganda: Forest protection president suspends gov worker for stopping illegal logging

A forestry official who blocked State House staff and UPDF soldiers
from stealing timber from forest reserves was unfairly suspended at
the urging of President Yoweri Museveni, Sunday Monitor has learnt.

Mr. George Gasana, a sector manager with National Forest Authority (NFA)
was suspended after Mr Museveni raised complaint with Minister Maria
Mutagamba that the former was selling and leasing government forests.
An inter-ministerial committee was later constituted to investigate Mr
Gasana who was in charge of Lwamunda forest sector covering Mpigi and
Wakiso districts; and the report, a copy of which Sunday Monitor has
seen, cleared him of any wrongdoing. Apparently, documents show that
state agents, who would ordinarily, be the ones to promote forest
conservation, are instead, the ones directly or indirectly degrading
forests through illegal activities like tree-cutting, sand-mining,
brick-making and even construction of houses in forest reserves.
Sources say because of heavy involvement of state agents, officials of
NFA, an agency mandated to protect and conserve forests, have faced
difficult times in implementing their mandate with some unfairly
suspended from work while some have been killed on duty. This paper
has learnt that some security agents and State House staff, whom Mr
Gasana had blocked, were the ones who could have misinformed the
President. Mr Gasana, could have landed himself in trouble with state
agents after he impounded several vehicles belonging to high profile
individuals. These vehicles were found ferrying illegal timber and
sand. Presidential Press Secretary, Joseph Tamale Mirundi said State
House has no powers to authorise transportation of illegal timber. Mr
Tamale said one Joseph Mugimba was interdicted at State House but
continues to transact business as a State House employee. “We have had
so many cases about Mugimba; he went away with our documents and
headed papers,” he said.

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