Govt asked to evict investors from wetlands

Nema officials inspect former Ssese Gateway Beach in December 2021. Ruparelia Group of Companies plans to erect a multibillion hotel at the same site. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Speaking to the media on August 8, Mr Kabuleta, who is the leader of the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED), expressed his concern over the growing disregard of the presidential directive to vacate wetlands.

Former presidential aspirant Joseph Kabuleta has asked the government to walk the environment talk and evict investors and other encroachers from the wetlands.

Speaking to the media on August 8, Mr Kabuleta, who is the leader of the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED), expressed his concern over the growing disregard of the presidential directive to vacate wetlands.

“Wetlands are continuously being evaded by Chinese who put up rice farms and other structures, which is illegal; the President indicated that he ordered Chinese out of the wetland but they have declined, how is that possible, how can they refuse to leave?” he wondered.

At the Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment, and Climate Change on July 29, President Museveni ordered the Chinese operating rice farms in wetlands to vacate immediately.

This is the fifth time that the President is directing people to vacate wetlands but with very little success.

But the executive director of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Dr Barirega Akankwasah, said the implementation of the presidential directive is hindered by the limited resources available for respective organizations to do their part in protecting public wetlands

“We would have done more but there are no operational resources. Parliament allocations to conservation agencies are limited. Conservation agencies only get salaries, most people have tended to overlook this factor, expecting agencies to operate without resourcing, which is impossible. However, this is being addressed,” he said.

According to Dr Akankwasah, the annual budget requirement for Nema is Shs142b. However last year, only Shs17b was appropriated to the authority and Shs18b for this year, which is less than13 percent of their annual budget requirement.

Mr Kabuleta said despite the directive, Nema continues to issue licences to the investors, who are mostly Chinese.

However, Dr Akankwasah said no new licences have been issued to any investors. “Effective September 2, 2021, Nema suspended issuance of certificates and permits for use of wetlands until further notice. This suspension is still in force to give a lease of life to the remaining wetlands as we develop more capacity to effectively monitor sustainable wetland usage,” he said.

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