Sand mining in Lwera: The dark side and bad deals

One of the heavy machinery used in the mining in Lwera. Photo by Martins E. Ssekweyana

What you need to know:

  • It is a lucrative but destructive activity wrought with irregularities. A few benefit from sand mining but most are harmed.
  • Mining which leads to the removal of channel substrate, resuspension of streambed sediment, clearance of vegetation, and stockpiling on the streambed, will have ecological impacts.
  • These impacts may have an effect on the direct loss of stream reserve habitat, disturbances of species attached to streambed deposits, reduced light penetration, reduced primary production, and reduced feeding opportunities.

Sand mining, a practice used to extract sand through an open pit is a lucrative activity in Lwera in Kalungu District located along the Kampala- Masaka highway.
It is lucrative because of the purposes sand serves in different fields including construction.
Silica sand, quartz (a hard white mineral consisting of silicon dioxide) that overtime, through the work of water and wind, has been broken down into tiny granules is one of the most common varieties and has many uses including making glass.
Despite these advantages, sand mining activities have caused severe effects on the environment in Lwera wetland including water pollution, destruction of the vegetation as well as the excavated pits and trenches ruining the beauty of the landscape.
For such reasons, the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources went on a fact finding mission to the area on September 22.
Before visiting some of the sand mining sites, the team first held a meeting with the town council members in the district.
Richard Vvube, the environment and wetland officer, Kalungu District says people started taking up sand mining in the region without their knowledge. Such actions forced them to enforce and ensure that the miners comply with the laws.
“In Kalungu, we have so far permitted three companies to undertake sand mining. However, one of the companies, after preparing itself legally did not find sand at the site identified to be viable,” Vvube said.
“The other two are operational and are closely regulated.”

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