Controversy emerged in the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA )Council, following a prosal by the City Executive Committee for the establishment of a Lord Mayor’s Forest.
According to the proposal, the Kampala District Land Board had been tasked to identify at least three acres of land for the Project.
This was presented on Thursday by John Mary Ssebuwufu, the Executive Secretary in Charge of Finance and Administration who made reference to an Urban Forest Policy under which the Lord Mayor would establish an Urban Forest in Kampala.
The forest is to be funded under the 1.2 billion Shillings Kampala beautification budget.
However, the proposal sparked a heated debate when councilors questioned the motive behind the Forest, while others wondered where KCCA would get three acres of land to establish a forest without evicting people.
Rubaga North B Woman Councilor Solome Nakiridde said that KCCA doesn’t need a forest but rather a clear plan to reclaim Kampala’s green spaces including leisure parks.
Nakiridde suggested that the said funds should instead be used to reclaim Kabaka’s Lake and renovate KCCA schools ahead of planned re-opening in January 2022.
Faridah Nakabugo, the Rubaga South Woman Councilor said the idea was weird and sarcastically stated that one day, the executive will come with a proposal to change Kampala’s name to Erias Lukwago.
Nakabugo suggested that the executive plants trees in the mayor’s parlor rather than attempting to invest scarce resources in acquiring three acres to set up a forest.
Workers representative Bismarck Ssempijja said that KCCA doesn’t need a forest but, a clear strategy on tree planting in Kampala.
He proposed that KCCA works with political leaders at all levels to get tree seedlings and plant trees in their respective areas.
The Executive Secretary in charge of Works, Hakiim Sawula attempted to explain the motive behind the forest pegging it on climate change and reclaiming the environment but his explanation fell on deaf ears as members insisted, KCCA could attain its goal without planting a special forest.
Having been challenged by the reaction of the council, Ssebuwufu who presented the proposal reiterated that the council has the liberty to adopt the idea of an urban forest and name it as they please.
He distanced himself and the executive committee from any effort that seem to be opposing prove environmental initiatives.
KCCA Speaker Zahara Luyirika questioned why KCCA needed to fund the establishment of a forest when there is a landscaping plan providing for planting grass and trees by the roadside.
Luyirika said KCCA needs to maintain already existing green areas and those designated as such but are facing degradation due to human activity.
She asked Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka to give a status report on Kampala’s green parks. However, Kisaka asked for time to consult and revert.
In the end, the council rejected the proposal of a Lord Mayor’s forest but maintained the money for tree planting and other landscaping programs in the city.
A total budget of 441.79 billion Shillings was passed as per the first budget call circular.