City authorities accuse Nema of unlawful evictions

Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago . PHOTO/FILE 

What you need to know:

  • Mr Lukwago criticised Nema for attempting to demolish structures without committee input and accused them of being reluctant to convene the committee. 

The Kampala Capital City Authorities (KCCA), led by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago,  has accused the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) of unlawful evictions in Lubigi Wetland, a Kampala suburb.

During a meeting with residents at Outspan Nursery and Primary School in Kawempe Division, Mr Lukwago said evictions violate the Nema Act of 2019. He highlighted Section 26, which mandates the creation of a District Environment Management Committee to oversee natural resources.

“This section talks about environmental management by urban and district councils; subject to this act and any other applicable law, urban and district councils shall be responsible for the management of environment and natural resources under their jurisdiction,” Mr Lukwago stated. He questioned Nema’s actions, noting that no committee had been established.

According to Mr Lukwago, the committee should include the Lord Mayor, Members of Parliament, resident city commissioners, the secretary for environment, the district natural resources officer, and other key officials. 

“Before demolitions are conducted in the area, the committee has to first sit down and discuss and thereafter present a report to Nema executive,” he explained, pointing out that this procedure had not been followed.

Mr Lukwago criticised Nema for attempting to demolish structures without committee input and accused them of being reluctant to convene the committee. 

“We have been on their neck to sit down and make this committee in vain. And after over-pressurising them, they scheduled a meeting last week but still, the Nema Executive Director, Mr Barirega Akankwasah, didn’t turn up. He instead delegated his junior officer, who could not respond to their questions,” he said.

Working with Kawempe Division Mayor Emmanuel Serunjogi, they plan to confront Nema officials today for answers. They argue that Section 158 of the Nema Act prohibits actions without an established environmental management system, and Section 130 allows Nema to issue restoration orders only when such a committee exists.

Deputy Lord Mayor Doreen Nyanjura urged residents to resist what she termed as Nema’s intimidation. 

“Let’s not be intimidated because Nema is not demolishing any house before meeting what the law demands,” she said. 

Mayor Serunjogi warned of protests if low-income residents are evicted, equating it to sentencing them to homelessness. 

“We are telling Nema that don’t dare come to Kawempe because the laws are clear. We are going to sensitise the residents to make sure they fight for their rights,” he said.

Mr David Luzindana, the chairperson of Katoogo Zone, reported that five houses had been marked for eviction, with many more threatened. 

“One of the residents whose house was marked possesses a land title. If the government continues with evictions, in Katoogo alone 37,000 will be homeless,” he said.