Ministry of Trade PS Geraldine Ssali in Anti-Corruption court dock Ministry of Trade PS Geraldine Ssali in dock at the Anti-Corruption

Don’t apply the law selectively when protecting environment

Police officers provide security to the enforcement team which carried out the eviction  at Ganda Village in Wakiso District on May 27, 2024. PHOTO/NOELINE NABUKENYA

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Protecting environment.
  • Our view:  The President’s directive should be implemented fully and all those flouting the law should be brought to book, just like the officials from Wakiso are begging.

On Thursday, a group of officials from Wakiso District stormed Kasanje Town Council in a bid to stop what they claimed was illegal sand mining on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The officers from the Wakiso District Environment and Natural Resources Committee, led by area Woman MP, Ms Betty Ethel Naluyima, visited the site that had heavy mining equipment, including excavators.

“Because of this illegal mining, Nakiwogo market has been submerged by the rising water levels,” she said. “We are fed up of the double standards of Nema [National Environment Management Authority]. You cannot have such a big project going on, and yet you evict only the poor. Florists are being sent away [from the wetland], yet encroachers with machines are left to operate.”

Although the Wakiso District Environment Officer, Mr Esau Mpoza, said they were working together with different authorities, including the ministry of Water, Nema and Kasanje Town Council, to ensure that the lake is clear of illegal activity, the double standards that is being complained about has been going on for too long.

Although it is true that some companies have permits from Nema to mine sand on the water bodies around the country, many of the operators mine sand without permits, destroying the environment in the process.

During his Independence Day speech in Kitgum District last year, President Museveni emphasised the importance of protecting environmental assets such as wetlands, forests, rivers, and lakes in order to foster Uganda’s development.

But the President also noted the importance of helping farmers transition from wetland farming to either cultivation through irrigation, or other forms of farming.

We appreciate that Nema and local government officials have acted on this directive and evicted farmers from protected areas in places such as Busoga and Kigezi sub-regions. We appeal to the same authorities to apply the same energy on the rich who are destroying the environment.

A 2015 report by Nema indicates that the most affected protected areas have been used for human activity such as farming, construction of structures and dumping of waste.

According to the wetland mapping exercise of 2008, wetland resources were noted to have reduced from 15 percent in 1994 to 10.9 percent of Uganda’s area.

In order for the trend to be reversed, the laws on the environment should not be applied selectively . 

Nema should be boosted with the required manpower and resources to be able to go after the so-called untouchables who destroy the environment with impunity. 

Finally, the President’s directive should be implemented fully and all those flouting the law should be brought to book, just like the officials from Wakiso are begging.