UGANDA, Gulu | Real Muloodi News | City Council Authorities in Gulu have stopped a developer from constructing a fuel station in Gulu wetland. The wetland is on Pece Stream at Green Valley Village, Gulu West Division. The authorities said the construction project was illegal.
Even though the construction firm had their supplies delivered to the Pece Stream construction site, the city Mayor Mr Alfred Okwonga said, “We discovered that the company irregularly acquired that plot without approval of the municipal council. Furthermore, the developers went ahead under unclear circumstances and acquired the land title without the approval of the municipal council.”
The Land Act (Cap 227) mandates the government to protect wetlands for the common use of Ugandans. The Land Act also stops the government from leasing or alienating wetlands.
Following that law, Mr Okwonga said, “We are maintaining our position to prohibit such illegal practices. We shall follow up how the company acquired the land title, and ensure it is withdrawn.”
Citing a Compliance Monitoring Report conducted by the Natural Resources Department of the council, Mr Christopher Ocan, the city’s environmental officer, said the company went against the directive of the planning committee in acquiring the land title.
The report found that the company got its environmental and social assessment (ESIA) certificate from the National Environmental Authority even after the council blocked the move.
The report states that “The act of the developer depositing such materials and assumption of ownership was found to be illegal.”
The report is in line with section 55, subsection (1) of the National Environment Act. It states “any person shall not, without the written approval of the relevant lead agency, given in consultation, erect, construct, place, alter, extend, remove or demolish any structure that is fixed in, on, under, or over any wetland.”
The developer, Mr Okello Lawrence, the Managing Director of Oil Energy Limited, said he was aware of the ongoing investigation at the site, but had no further information.
He said, “I cannot talk about that to the media. Don’t mind about how I acquired that place, but we are going to develop that place.”
The Deputy Resident City Commissioner, Mr Francis Odoki, started an investigation of Oil Energy Company’s environmental and social impact assessment Certificate.
He said, “We have sent my team to investigate the matter, and I was informed that the owner is a businessman from Lira.”
To protect the wetlands as required by law, a report by the Natural Resources Department suggested that it should end the ESIA until they make a thorough review of the construction site location.
The report states, “NEMA should look at the cancellation since the coordinates are inconsistent with the actual site location and the land title should be reviewed and issued consistently to respect the demarcated wetland beacon.”
The decision was in line with a directive given in November 2020 by the National Planning Board, which directed all city town clerks and municipal clerks to suspend the development of fuel stations until the developers met operational guidelines.
The ruling happened after leaders queried the continued building of fuel stations on government-protected land.
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