Thursday April 3 2014

Stop rape of this wetland

By Editorial

Despite several media reports highlighting the abuse going on at the Katoogo Wetland in Kinawataka, a suburb of the city, authorities have chosen to keep mute and look on as the wetland degradation goes on.

Cognizant of the criminal nature of their activities, the people behind this degradation, who this newspaper has learnt are powerful businessmen with political connections, have decided to conduct their dubious activities in the night.

Their trucks ferry murram in the dead of the night to the wetland, which connects to Lake Victoria from Banda, Kinawataka and Luzira.

The importance of this wetland cannot be overstated. It is very critical in draining a large section of Kampala and Wakiso districts, which probably would be grappling with unending floods, if this wetland never existed. The drainage of Banda, Kinawataka, Mbuya, Kireka and Bweyogerere all depend on this wetland.

A research conducted by several Makerere University lecturers from the College of Agricultural and Environment Sciences in 2005 established that the wetland purified wastewater and was important in retaining flood water.
In a single year, the wetland retains 96 per cent of suspended solids and 99.9 per cent feacal matter. The wetland also acts as habitat for fauna and flora while the local communities harvest papyrus reeds for making mats, thatching houses, making fences and for use as a fuel. Of the 17 families of the plants identified in the wetland, nine have medicinal value and are being used by the local communities.

All these functions of the wetland are under threat as shadowy investors move to degrade it with impunity. We do not believe the claim by line authorities—the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)—that they have no idea what is going on. All one needs is a walk past that wetland to realise that all is not well.

NEMA and KCCA should come out openly and explain why they cannot stop this blatant abuse of the environment. When NEMA complained about its inability to enforce environment laws, a whole unit in the police was created to do this. Where is this police unit as trucks continue to dump soil in a wetland in the dead of the night?