ARUA. Arua municipal council on Wednesday approved the process of degazetting Arua central forest commonly known as Barifa forest to pave way for the Nile eco-city development.

This comes after the ministry of water and environment in November 2019 asked the municipal council to restart the processes and submit a report within two months.

A similar council meeting to allow degazzettement of the forest was held in 2014 but the process dragged as the council awaited parliament’s approval only for the ministry to put forth new conditions in 2019 for the process to continue.

The council has been among other new conditions asked to carry a land valuation for both the forest and an alternative 256-hectare land in Logiri Sub County.

Other conditions include carrying out adequate consultations with communities around the forest reserve and the exchange land and carrying out an extensive environmental impact assessment for both the forest and the alternative land.

The Barifa ForestThe Barifa Forest, where Nile Eco city is set to be located.

The Wednesday meeting sought council approval to allow the restart of the process of degazetting the 236-hectare land that stretches between Arua Hill division in Arua municipality and Oluko Sub County in Arua district.

The project is to be undertaken by Joadah Capital Infrastructure Partners (JCIP), a global corporation that undertook the first.

While presenting on how the planned Eco-City will look like, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Joadah Consults, Eng. Joel Aita said the Nile Eco-city will consist of E-governance and E-management, with modern waste management and maintaining a greener environment.

The city will also have other components like E-smart urban mobility where congestion caused by vehicles is minimized as well as smart green building and establishment of a medical tourism center.

Mr Joel AitaMr Joel Aita presenting master plan of the proposed nile Eco City before the councilors. PHOTO BY JOSEPH ODAMA

Mr. Deogracious Adriko, the executive director of JCIP said an innovation center will also be created as part of the eco-city to help unemployed graduates in learning through the technology-driven economy.

“We are now moving into knowledge economy as you know. So we want to put an education center for innovation where our youth today instead of being engaged in things like Mirungi chewing, would be engaged in innovation” Mr. Adriko said.

Arua, the consultants said has the potential to become the center of business in Africa much like Dubai in the Arab world based on its strategic location.

The stakeholders said Arua city’s business potential is enhanced by its border connection with three countries of Democratic republic of Congo and South Sudan, through which different other African countries in West and Central respectively can be accessed.

JCIPExecutive director of JCIP, Mr Deogracious Adriko speaking during the meeting AT Arua municipal council hall. PHOTO BY JOSEPH

Commenting on the process, Alhajji Issa Kato, the mayor of the municipality thanked the JCIP partners for their intervention to develop the municipality into a modern city.

“I am telling you, people, let us keep on praying, and let us not frustrate projects that are coming to us, maybe people who will frustrate it do not know the meaning of development,” The mayor said.

Joadah Capital Infrastructure Partners have also as part of their package accepted to pay an outstanding UGX 40 million on the alternative land acquired in Logiri Sub County.