NYABIHU - The controversy surrounding the encroachment of Gishwati forest has taken a new twist with the Local Government Minister, Christophe Bazivamo, ordering for the immediate eviction of 289 families from the forest.
Bazivamo, who represented the Prime Minister, Bernard Makuza, at a meeting with the area’s leadership, urged all district officials to work closely with the security organs in order to speed up the eviction and for it to be completed by, September 4.
He stressed that it is important to ensure that the people encroaching on the forest are evicted before the rainy season begins.
According to Jean Damascene Ndagijimana, the Mayor of Nyabihu, the residents will be moved without expropriation to Kijote cell of Bigogwe sector and at Nyakiriba sector in Rubavu district,.
He explained that the effort is geared at helping residents who dwell on the sloppy, dangerous mountain because soil erosion and landslides may cause a disaster.
However, speaking to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, one evacuee said that the exercise is targeting the poor, without bothering the rich, who also graze their cows in the forest.
“These are not mere allegations,” said the resident.
He further said that several high government officials have farms in the public forest.
The resident who also faces eviction, said that they do not farm in the forest land, but live nearby in order to benefit from the fertile soils.