NEMA begins eviction of Lubigi wetland encroachers
By Evans Najuna
KAMPALA – Following the Presidential directive on wetlands, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has intervened to execute the directive at Lubigi wetland.
In a press release dated 19th December, NEMA officials say that they having a joint operation to evict all encroachers from the Busega Roundabout, Mityana Road and Nansana – Nabweru Road, and restore the Lubigi Wetland System.
The operation, which is expected to end on Wednesday 20th December, is being carried out by the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Environment Police Protection Unit (EPPU), Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Umeme, State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the Presidential Special Taskforce on Land Matters and Environment, Uganda National Roads Authority and the media.
According to NEMA, under the National Environment Act (NEA), No. 5 of 2019, the National Environment (Wetlands, Riverbanks and Lakeshores Management) Regulations states that: The Government or a local government shall hold in trust for the people and protect wetlands for the common good of the citizens of Uganda. Wetlands, among other things, provide papyrus, medicinal plants, trees and reeds, fish, water for domestic use and hunting ground. However, following the high rates of wetland degradation, NEMA permanently suspended issuing permits for wetland activities on 2nd September, 2021. Today’s undertaking follows an earlier operation conducted on 13th October, 2023 when the same institutions moved to restore some of the sections of Lubigi wetland particularly Busega Roundabout and Busega-Mityana Road. In this time’s operation, arrests of encroachers that have since gone back to the wetland are expected to be made.
This operation is targeting the removal of; concrete works, the lorry park, taxi park, washing bays, motor garages and other unauthorised structures, containers and other activities. In the two-day exercise, all containers, car parks, garages, residencies and all other activities that operate in this wetland system will be removed. The operation will also demobilise the former material yard used in the construction of the northern bypass. Stones heaped on the same site and stoves used for fish smoking will all be removed. More planned activities will be conducted on the Nansana Nabweru Road Lubigi wetland section.
It can be noted that, wetland is currently faced with serious degradation from encroachers despite the sensitization undertaken by NEMA officials. The authority issued restoration orders to all the wetland encroachers doing activities within the wetland to voluntarily vacate, but until now many of them have not vacated. This is in contradiction with the NEMA mandate as provided for under the National Environment Act No.5 of 2019 to regulate, monitor, supervise and coordinate all activities related to the environment in Uganda.
On 12th September 2023, in a letter reference; ADM 105/01 from the KCCA Resident City Commissioner to the executive directors of NEMA and KCCA, the President of Uganda directed the removal of all encroachers that are coming back in Lubigi wetland with immediate effect.