Officials from the Ministry of Water and Environment yesterday said reports that Lake Victoria is polluted with traces of heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals are not true.
The officials led by the permanent secretary, Mr Alfred Okot Okidi, told journalists at the media centre in Kampala that while pollution is a worldwide challenge, the report about Lake Victoria is an exaggeration.
Mr Okidi said the research findings by Nation Media Group (NMG) journalists and a team of scientists from University of Nairobi were unfair and only aimed at portraying the Uganda government as incompetent. He said government is already doing much to protect Lake Victoria and other water bodies across the country.
“There are laws and regulations in place and through the relevant agencies and departments, enforcement is being done,” Mr Okidi said.
He added that government ensures waste water is not discharged into the lake without being treated. This, Mr Okidi said, is done through issuance of waste water discharge permits to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), town councils and industries.
“For the case of Kampala, we have the joint monitoring of pollution under Kampala pollution task force and this draws membership from KCCA, the ministry and NWSC. They do regular assessment of the industrial waste water and they also disseminate pollution information,” he said.
Mr Okidi also said other interventions such as dredging of Murchison Bay from where NWSC pumps water are being put in place to save Lake Victoria.
On safety of fish
He also said fish from Uganda is very safe and that no traces of dangerous chemicals have been found in it in the last four years.
“Lake Victoria fish is very safe, the fisheries industry in Uganda is closely regulated and monitored on monthly basis by the industry and directorate of fisheries. No data so far obtained over the last four years indicated poor quality in any form from Lake Victoria or any other lake in Uganda,” Mr Okidi said.
The permanent secretary said “the sampling was biased,” and that the methods of analysis were obsolete.
About the NMG STUDY
During the study, the NMG team accompanied by scientists from University of Nairobi found that fish samples taken from different spots both in Uganda and Kenya showed contained pesticides and other pollutants that are hazardous to human beings. According to the findings, there were traces of heavy metals detected in all the five fish samples, including lead, cadmium, chromium, zinc, iron, copper and manganese.