WAKISO. Wakiso District chairperson Matia Lwanga Bwanika on Thursday nearly exchanged blows with Chinese miners whom he accused of illegally operating at Lugumba Landing Site in Zazi parish, Kasanje Sub-county.
Trouble began when Bwanika accompanied by his deputy, Ms Betty Naluyima, and the district environment officer, Esau Mpoza, among others, carried out an impromptu visit of the sand mining site and asked why the Chinese were excavating sand in contravention of an early directive by the district to suspend the activity.
Appearing to question Bwanika’s authority, one of the Chinese investors only identified as Zhou asked who Bwanika is to halt their operations.
“Who are you to stop our work?” Zhou asked as he pointed at Bwanika.
This prompted a visibly angry Bwanika to order a police officer who was passing by the site to arrest the Chinese investor Zhou and the site engineer Kennedy Zake.
In an attempt to resist arrest, the Chinese investors, who were about four in number, fought back thus engaging in a fist fight. In the ensuing melee, one of the Chinese confronted Bwanika, shoved and later punched him, prompting the police officer, Isabirye, attached to Kasanje Police Station to separating the two.
“Don’t fight the district chairman. He is a big person in the district,” the police officer said.
The Chinese continued to resist and even after being put in the district environment officer’s pick-up truck, he opened the door and took off. However, the team managed to arrest two people from the site; Zhou and Kennedy Zake, the site manager.
After the operation, Bwanika said such scenarios will not deter him from flashing out bogus investors who are depleting the lake. Being one of the fastest urbanising area, Wakiso District is facing an influx of people from different areas who are looking for land to carryout economic activities with some encroaching on natural resources like wetlands, forests and some entering the lake to excavate sand.
Mr Mpoza said he had earlier warned the Chinese against excavating sand from the lake but they adamantly continued with their illegal activity.
“The district through the director natural resources, Rebecca Ssebaganzi, and the CAO’s office wrote to the Chinese stopping their illegal activity but they continued and on stopping them they have stubbornly assaulted the district chairman, which is bad,” Mr Mpoza said.
The officer in-charge Kasanje police station, Amir Magulu, said the suspects will be charged with destroying the environment under the environment laws. However, Bwanika and the Kasanje Sub-county LC3 councillor, Mr Zam Ssebirumbi, separately opened up an assault case against the suspects at Kasanje Police Station and later the officer in charge of the station forwarded the two suspects to Entebbe Police Station.
After the operation, Wakiso chairman Bwanika said such scenarios will not deter him from flashing out bogus investors who are depleting the lake. Being one of the fastest urbanising area, Wakiso District is facing an influx of people from different areas who are looking for land to carryout economic activities.