MASAKA- The Bishop Emeritus of Masaka Diocese John Baptist Kaggwa has urged President Yoweri Museveni to walk the talk on restoring wetlands which have been destroyed by individuals who disguise as investors.
The prelate cited the Lwera Wetland System on the Kampala-Masaka highway where the Mr Museveni ordered Chinese investors to stop expanding their rice fields in July, but the wetland encroachment continues unabated.
“For us the priests we have done our work of sensitising the population about the need to protect the environment, but we believe that the leaders in government have put little attention to the noble cause of restoring the wetlands,” Bishop Kaggwa said. “Despite the President’s directives, the wetlands continue to be degraded. It is time for the President to crack the whip. The President must walk the talk.”
The bishop was speaking during celebrations to mark a golden jubilee in priesthood for Fr Joseph Mary Kasule at Gulama-Bisanje Village in Masaka on Saturday.
Fr Kasule is the former vicar general of Masaka Diocese .
President Museveni has repeatedly expressed concern over the continued wanton destruction of wetlands and forests and directed local leaders to persuade all wetland and forest encroachers to voluntarily vacate before government uses force to flush them out.
The president wondered how residents could encroach on wetlands under the watch of technocrats.
However, all the presidential directives on restoring wetlands have been ignored .
“The encroachers have no reason to resist the eviction. These wetlands have been destroyed under the watch of the government officials who include the RDCs and CAOs,” Mr Museveni said while commissioning factories in Luweero District last year.
Bishop Kaggwa thanked Wakiso District chairperson ,Mr Matia Lwanga Bwanika for being brave and confronting individual wetland encroachers who disguise as investors in his district.
“Mr Lwanga is not like the other leaders who have almost abandoned the battle against wetland encroachers.
Mr Don Wanyama , the senior presidential press secretary said when the President issues a directive ,it is the line ministries and agencies to implement it, not him .
“He has done his part of preaching the dangers of wetlands encroachment and offering guidance. If the President gives a directive, there is a plethora of agencies meant to enforce those directives,” he said yesterday. “Please ask National Environment Management Authority, Environment Police why they have not enforced those directives.”
Ministry of Environment statistics show that Uganda has lost more than 30 per cent of the wetlands in the last 23 years.
Section 36 of the National Environment Act provides for the protection of wetlands and prohibits reclamation, erection of illegal structures and empowers authorities to demolish any structure that is fixed in, on, under or above any wetland.
The Act also empowers districts to manage wetlands within their jurisdictions and ensure that their boundaries are clearly demarcated so that even as water levels and wetland vegetation recedes, the communities are clear on where the boundaries lie.