All residents of the 11 villages that have encroached on Lubigi wetland located northwest of Kampala are going to be evicted next week, a police official has said.
“As police we are going to back up the eviction, and the inspector general of police told all the stake holders involved in this eviction such as National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the ministry of Water and Environment and others to be around during eviction process. We are going to demolish about 200 houses,” Simon Peter Okoshi, the deputy commandant Environmental Protection police unit said.
He said, there are some wetlands where the encroachers were permitted by Nema to do some activities after reaching some agreements.
“So, we first coordinate with Nema and see how to interpret that permission before evicting them. But there are those who build without Nema’s permission we are going to demolish all of them,” he added, saying that the exact day of eviction is not yet communicated.
He said this today, April 6 during the 73rd state of the nation platform dialogue at Hotel Protea in Kampala, under the theme “Greening Uganda’s economy as a sustainable pathway to middle income status.”
Okoshi also said, the rich are the biggest degraders of the wetlands when doing economic activities there and not the poor since they don't have money to develop wetlands. He said, they are going to start evictions with villages of Namugoona, Masanafu, Nakuuwade, Bulenga, Nansana, Nabweru, Kawaala, Kyengera, Gganda, Bwaise and Busega.
During the dialogue, Col Felix Kulayigye, a UPDF MP said, people who build and do activities in the wetlands should be taken to prisons and abandoned by their families and friends.
“For me, anybody living in the wetlands deserves to be in prison. We have interfered with the catchment area for Lake Victoria, and around it. We ...think we are educated. Somebody was giving me some private work in the wetland and I said sorry, I can’t encroach on wetland. So you should do your part and we shall see the effect,” he said.
Fred Bamwine the RDC Buikwe said, it’s the government’s failure to take responsibility and guide people against using wetlands.
“Say tomorrow everybody in the wetland should be arrested, they will go off and there will be no need of resources. But the problem, when we start enforcing some issues to remove people from wetlands, MPs start coming saying they are our voters,” he said.
Dr Arthur Bainomugisha, the executive director Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (Acode) said, Uganda is in the process of transition to build green economy which is sustainable and inclusive where everybody protects the environment.
“As Uganda, we still have many unemployment youths who complete school without jobs. We have mis-managed the environment, the tree cover has been almost destroyed, wetlands depleted, water resources poisoned and this created unemployment. The future generation will not find national forests, seas and we have crisis. So we want to restore the degraded environment,” he said.
During the dialogue officials from Nema cautioned that should this wetland disappear, the entire central cattle corridor, which includes Luweero, Nakasongola and Nakaseke among other districts will not have water.
Participants in the dialogue said, many people invaded the wetland, fill it with lay soil and set up houses while some converted it for agriculture.
Lubigi wetland is one of the many wetlands facing extinction despite its critical roles of filtering, retaining and controlling floods in and around the surrounding districts of Wakiso and Mpigi.
The extensive wetland has for long been a soft target for encroachers who reclaim it for settlement, farming, bricklaying, washing bays and other activities.