• Sun. Jun 26th, 2022

UGANDA, Gulu | Real Muloodi NewsGulu City Council Authorities have stopped the planned construction of a fuel station in a wetland in Bardege – Layibi Division, Gulu City.

A team of law enforcement officers removed the enclosure at the proposed construction site around Pece Stream. The petrol station was being constructed along Pece stream near Cynabel Supermarket in Gulu City.

The investor who was constructing the fuel station had resumed work on the only remaining water catchment area in Gulu City, yet the project had been stopped following protests from city officials and environmentalists months ago.

The Gulu City leaders decided to demolish the ‘illegal’ structure, destroying a part of the iron-sheet fence around the project. The leaders made this move to warn developers who bribe their way into constructing ‘illegal’ structures.

The Gulu City Mayor Alfred Okwonga says that the fuel station construction work is illegal since it is against the National Environment Act, 2019, which clearly states that no structures are allowed in wetlands.

Okwonga also wonders how the investor acquired a land title of the wetland from the Gulu District Land Board and an Impact Assessment Certificate from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). 

He said that the board must explain the circumstances under which they issued a land title to the investor to use the wetland.

Robert Komakech, the speaker of Bardege – Layibi Division, says that the city council physical planning committee didn’t endorse the construction of the pump fuel station since the area is in a demarcated wetland.

He added that stopping the vendor from committing an environmental crime will send a signal to other current and prospective environment degraders.

One environmental activist said there is a need by the city officials to conserve the available wetland cover within the city from degradation, seeing there is an increase in the area urbanisation and population.

Peter Rock Okwoko, an environmental activist and co-founder of Takataka plastics, says that any infrastructural development on the wetland will be disastrous to the ecosystem and people who depend on it for agriculture.

He appreciated the city authorities for taking a bold step in stopping the project and called for more efforts to save other wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas under degradation threat.

The wetlands boundaries in Gulu City have been shrinking over the years due to rapid urbanisation and population growth.

The majority of the wetlands have been destroyed for settlement and economic activities.

Lawrence Okello, the Managing Director of Oil Energy (U) Ltd, the company behind the construction project, did not pick up repeated phone calls from news reporters.

Last year, concerning the same project, the Deputy Resident City Commissioner, Mr Francis Odoki, said, “we have sent my team to investigate the matter, and I was informed that the owner is a businessman.”

Okello Lawrence said that 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.”

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