Residents of Kayunga Town and neighbouring areas have expressed concern over contamination of River Ssezibwa by waste from Kayunga abattoir.
The pipe that carries the waste from the abattoir to the faecal sludge treatment facility broke down six months ago and since then, untreated waste from the abattoir has been flowing into the river.
The residents are worried that the continued contamination of the river could expose them to diseases such as cholera.
Ms Shadia Nakalema, a resident of Asoni Zone in Bukolooto Trading Centre where the sludge treatment facility is located, on Monday said: “The waste contaminates the river, which is our main source of water.”
Residents said the stench from the sludge is unbearable while others fear that the meat from the abattoir is also contaminated.
Mr Daniel Eberu, the town principal health inspector, said: “We are aware of the problem and I have already informed the concerned officers to provide funds for fixing the pipes, but I have not received it.” Mr Magid Nyanzi, the town mayor, said plans are underway to fix the problem.
“Water from the river is used for domestic purposes and others use it for washing vehicles and irrigating their gardens. So, it can be a health risk if it is contaminated,” Mr Nyanzi said.
He added that the waste, which is dumped at a treatment plant, will be turned into organic fertiliser and sold to farmers at a low cost in the near future.
The Ministry of Water and Environment constructed a faecal sludge management plant for the town in 2017.
However, it has been idle until five months ago when government provided a cesspool emptier vehicle to transport the faecal sludge from houses to the treatment plant.
The emptying of pit-toilets and septic tanks costs between Shs200,000 and Shs250,000 depending on the distance from the town centre.
Central Umbrella Organisation was contracted to manage the water and sewerage facilities in Kayunga Town.
About River Ssezibwa
River Ssezibwa is located in the southern central part of Uganda. It starts from the wetlands between Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga, West of Victoria Nile and flows in the general direction of North to empty into lake Kyoga. The source of River Ssezibwa is located in Buikwe District, near Ngogwe. A section of Ssezibwa wetland has been degraded by encroachers who engage in sand mining and growing crops such as rice, vegetables, maize and yams. Records indicate that the wetland, which measures about 80 miles, had unique flora and fauna, shrubs, reeds, woodland and natural grasslands, but the growing demand for agriculture and sand mining has left it depleted. This has resulted in silting of other small swamps which drain in Lake Kyoga. In 2016, district leaders protested the proposed giveaway of the wetland by the Uganda Land Commission to an investor for sugarcane growing, forcing the government to back off.
Recently, the government also embarked on the construction of a Sh12b piped water project to supply water from River Nile to Busaana Trading Centre and Kayunga Town.