KAKUMIRO/KIBAALE. Police in Kakumiro District are holding 13 people for allegedly encroaching on wetlands in Katikara and Mpasana sub-counties.
The first seven suspects were arrested on Monday during an operation by police and Kakumiro District Natural Resources Department. Police arrested six more people in an operation conducted around Mpasana Sub-county on Tuesday.
The police officer in charge of operations in Kakumiro District, Mr John Kyaligonza, told Daily Monitor that force have gathered credible evidence including photographs of the suspects, which will be presented before court. Police also seized farming equipment which included pangas, hoes, among others.
‘‘The hunt will continue until all encroachers are paraded before court. They will be charged with encroachment and degradation of the swamp,’’ Ms Kyaligonza said.
Mr Kyaligonza noted that the suspects continued to cultivate on the wetlands despite earlier warning from the district authorities.
‘‘These people were many and others fled the gardens on seeing us advancing,’’ added Mr Kyaligonza.
The operations follow the recent resolution by the Kakumiro District council to the arrest encroachers after the expiry of the two months’ grace period.
When contacted, the district natural resources officer, Mr Chris Baguma, said the operation is intended to save the wetlands from depletion.
However, several suspects who spoke to Daily Monitor said they were hired by the residents as casual laborers. On this matter, Mr Baguma said police will also hunt down the perpetrators of encroachment.
Mr Gerald Musinguzi, a resident of Kitabona village, which is largely covered by a wetland claims that the government resettled them in such areas under the Kisiita Resettlement Scheme in 1992.