Environment officials, tycoons accused of connivance on wetland mismanagement
By Wod Omoro
Mbarara – Mbarara city resident city commissioner (RCC) Col. James Mwesigye has accused the Mbarara Environment Police Officer for conniving with some rich people who have mismanaged wetlands in the newly created western region city.
Mwesigye also accused the same officer, the Mbarara City Natural Resource Officer who dodged his invitations about the operations against the people who have encroached on wetlands in the city environs.
On Wednesday, the team from the office of Mbarara city RCC, and some politicians held an operation at Rucece wetlands in Mbarara city south division where they found a number of individuals who have massively encroached on the wetland.
People have destroyed almost a half of the wetland for their gardens. Locals argue that the environment officers normally focus on evicting poor people out of the wetland leaving the rich ones to stay running their activities normally within the same wetland.
According to Mwesigye, he alleges that he got information that the Environment Police officer got Shs1.5m recently from some people who wanted to keep encroaching on the wetland. It has been discovered that a number of tycoons including ministers, and families of the rich from areas of Rucece, Katukuru and Kibaya stretch wetlands have all encroached on the said wetland and the authorities responsible have never apprehended them.
However the Mbarara RCC has ordered his deputy in charge of Mbarara city south division to implement the policy to ensure that all trees planted in the wetlands are cut down. That all gardens that contain food crops, the owners should be given an opportunity to harvest their crops then after no one should be allowed to carry any other activity on that land as long as it is within the wetland lane.
Mwesigye said that no one is above the law whether rich or poor, all have to leave the wetland.
About 150 hectares of wetlands in the area have been encroached on. And in this regard other people are going to be affected.
Tumuhairwe Kotazarirwe, the LC1 chairperson Rucece cell said that they have complained over time about people who have encroached on the wetland in Rucece but the authorities continue to pay a deaf ear, adding that they want all people evicted from the wetland.
He asked the RCC to take serious action against the tycoons who think they are untouchable and above the law.