Residents protest Lwera sand mining

Monday March 01 2021
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Part of Lwera swamp where rice is being grown

By Muzafaru Nsubuga

KALUNGU- Residents of Kamuwunga Village in Lukaya Town Council on Kampala-Masaka highway have raised a red flag over the continued sand mining activities in Lwera wetland.

They want government to stop the activities, claiming that excessive excavation of sand has forced floods to invade their  homes. 

Lwera swamp stretches about 20km on the Kampala–Masaka highway. It is a major water catchment area that connects several rivers and wetlands in Gomba, Mpigi and Kalungu districts, and drains directly into Lake Victoria.  

Residents say unlike in the past when  flood water could directly pour into Lake Victoria whenever it rained, now it stagnates in their compounds for several months.

“We started experiencing  floods when sand miners, who use heavy machinery came here. Some sand miners leave huge open pits and trenches behind after excavating sand which are dangerous to the environment, and if they are not stopped , we are headed for disaster,”  Mr Ronald Ssemanda, the chairperson Kamuwunga Village, said at the weekend.

He said some crops that residents  planted late last year such as sweet potatos and cassava are  submerged in water even before the seasonal rains start.

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“The flood water which hit us during the September-December seasonal rain is not subsiding,  and  residents are going to face a problem of famine because their plantations have been destroyed,” Mr Ssemanda said. 

He said Kamuwunga Primary School, the only school in  the area, also gets submerged whenever there is heavy rain.

However, Mr Hamidu Ssennoga, the manager of Capital Estate, one of the companies carrying out sand mining in Lwera, said Kamuwunga is in a low land which has a high water table.

“Those people [at Kamuwunga] are using us a scapegoat. They know that they settled in a wetland which is prone to floods,” he said. 

Mr Ssennoga said his company has taken nearly three years without doing any sand mining around Kamuwunga.

However, residents claim they own plots of land in the area, and have land titles which suggests they are lawful occupants. 
Three years ago, Lukaya Town authorities said they had drafted a plan which would guide the public on developments.

Residents also want Lukaya Town Council authorities  to work on the main access roads in the area which have remained impassable for close to five years, thus making transportation of agricultural goods difficult.

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