Two govt agencies clash over sand mining in forest reserve
Posted Tuesday, January 15 2013 at 02:00
A row has erupted between the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the National Forest Authority (NFA) after the latter allegedly licensed three people to mine sand in Kyewaga forest yet the former had halted the activity.
NEMA has maintained a permanent police presence in the forest to ensure that any illegal mining does not take place. However, the Daily Monitor has learnt that the activity, which kicked off on December 27, has caused a bitter exchange between the two environment watch dogs, with NEMA stopping people from mining the sand, an order that NFA has rejected.
“We were told to guard this place from sand miners which we successfully did. Then, three people then came with NFA letters authorising them to mine, making us look like fools because you cannot guard against mining in the forest when people about 500 meters inside the forest are mining,” a police officer, who refused to be named because is not authorised to speak to the press, said.
“They have 12 months licences from NFA and receipts of Shs20million on which they paid NFA to get the licences,” he added. NEMA environment police liaison officer Naboth Kusiima said: “Our role was to stop people mining at the shoreline which we did. Mining inside the forest is being done by NFA.”
The assistant commissioner of police, Mr John Twinomugisha, said the miners applied through NFA and were given licences. Efforts to get a comment from the acting director in-charge of Natural Forests, Mr James Ndimukulaka, were fruitless as he could not pick our repeated calls.
Mr Kaita Gonza Araali, the NFA public relations officer, however, said they only gave letters of offer to the miners and are still processing licenses and Environment Impact Assessments to okay the mining.