todayFebruary 5, 2024

By Sabir Musa

Arua City

The Physical Planning Committee of Arua City Council has again deferred the building plan submitted for approval by Maracha County MP, Oguzu Lee Denis who was granted permission by National Forestry Authority (NFA) to develop an eco-tourism and recreational center on 10-hectares of Arua Central Forest Reserve, commonly known as Barifa.

This decision follows analysis of the plan by Physical Planning Committee that maintains that the prospective developer’s plan is not environment friendly as “it contains permanent structures”.

While reading the committee resolutions in a joint stakeholders’ consultative meeting, Arua City Senior Engineer, Anthony Dradria states that the committee recommends for amendment of the plan to suit eco-tourism development. “All the structures which were submitted for approval were for recreational park, they be aligned and were permanent structures even the mere gutter to collect water from the room is out of reinforced concrete” the Engineer explains part of findings.

The Developer, Oguzu, was permitted by NFA to use 10-hectares of land in the forest for his project after emerging as the best, following his application in response to a public call by the authority in 2019.

He was, among others, required to carry an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, consult other stakeholders, show financial capability for the project, compensate Project Affected Person (if any) and submit his plan for approval by the local authority, Arua City Council in this case.

Although all other requirements were fulfilled and cleared by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), approval of his plan is still pending since then. This he says is not right as all the requirements are fulfilled and maintains that all channel were followed. “When they deferred by application, they gave me grounds that the land use am proposing has not been planned there in Barifa and yet I know Barifa is a zoned area, I have the Physical Development Plan of Arua City, it zones that area as a forest meaning my proposal was within the land use” he states.

However, National Forestry Authority maintains that the land was legally given for use by the prospective. According to NFA, other Central Forest Reserves opened for environment friendly activities include Gulu Central Forest Reserve, Laura Central Forest Reserve and Mt. Kei Central Forest Reserve among others.

Arua Municipal Council before elevation to city status started the process to degazzete Barifa where Nile Eco-City is planned to be developed. This according to officials of the city will among others help to address high insecurity cases in the forest and improve revenue base once it is implemented.

COVER PHOTO: The Nile Eco-City Plan presented by Arua City Council By Sabir Musa

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