District authorities have issued a 14-day ultimatum to residents of Kirongo Landing Site, the docking area for Kiyindi –Buvuma ferry, to vacate to avoid an imminent disaster.
The devastating rise in water levels on Lake Victoria shorelines has left houses destroyed and traders counting losses. Already shorelines sunk are Munyonyo and Mulungu in Kampala and Lwera in Kalungu District have been affected.
A notice issued by Buvuma District physical planner, Ms Gloria Kizza, indicates that all makeshift structures at Kirongo landing site must be demolished.
“The physical planning committee has noticed that your structural/dwelling has become a public nuisance to the community. Therefore, you are given 14 days to demolish the said structures. Failure to comply, the Authority will do so at your cost,” the notice dated February 19 read in part.
Mr Zebia Wasswa, the Buvuma District communications officer, said residents at the landing site settled in a protected buffer zone and have been given enough time to prepare for relocation to safer places.
“Buffer zones have to be 200 meters away from the lake. We sensitized them to vacate those places but they have refused. We have not used any force yet but we will be prompted to apply it,” Mr Wasswa said.
Kirongo landing site is home to more than 300 people who engage in fishing and other informal businesses such as shops, restaurants, bars and video halls.
Ms Leticia Namugalu who owns a restaurant at the landing site said water submerged her house which also serves as restaurant and she has nowhere to go.
“I have a restaurant but the floods have destroyed everything inside. I request that they give us some relief items before chasing us away,” she said.
Mr Daniel Dungu, a fisherman in the area, said the landing site has a good location for businesses since it is where the ferry docks.
“This landing site brings a lot of people on a daily basis because of this ferry, everyone can earn a living depending what he /she does. Where do they [district authorities] want us to go? Chasing us away is going to make us homeless in our own country,” he said.
Mr Bakali Funa, the chairperson Kirongo landing site said residents will not vacate the landing site, insisting that they settled in the area before Buvuma became a district in 2010.
“We came here when the water was 200 meters away from where it is now. It is water which is chasing us but we shall not allow the district to destroy our structures. We are not shaken by their ultimatum,” Mr Funa said.
Buvuma District which has a land area of about 320 square kilometres and a population of about 20,000 people comprises 52 scattered islands. It hosts multi ethnic categories of settlers who engage in fishing, charcoal burning and timber harvesting for survival.
The rise in the water level in various areas along Lake Victoria shoreline has been attributed to torrential rain that has been pounding the country for several months.
Many commercial facilities on the shoreline have been flooded or submerged. Environmentalists say this unpredictable flooding points to climate change occasioned by global warming due to man’s relentless war against nature.
But there is also pollution by man, which also partly explains water surge forcing the suffocated lake to burst its shoreline, submerging businesses and residences in close proximity.
In some areas, the residents have been advised to relocate to safety while lakeside businesses such as hotels and beaches like areas like Munyonyo and Entebbe are grappling with constant flooding, with part of the premises abandoned or closed to clients.
Early this month, the Ministry of Water and Environment also warned encroachers living in wetlands adjacent to Lake Victoria to vacate.