UGANDA, Masaka | Real Muloodi News | Authorities in Masaka District have halted the activities of Chinese investors who have so far claimed 30 acres of the Nakiyaga Wetland in the Bukakkata Sub County.
The investors, who are already involved in sand mining, were embarking on agricultural operations in another area of the marsh.
According to Mr January Kusiimwa, the Southern Regional Environmental Protection Police Commander, the Chinese investors who control the project were not permitted to do any activity in the region along the Lake Victoria shoreline, which is home to a wide variety of delicate species.
‘’I could have known if there was any clearance given to those investors. We have stopped any further activities on their site after finding out that they lack an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate approval, which is a prerequisite for anyone operating in a protected area like a wetland,’’ Mr Kusiimwa said.
When the inspection team arrived on the scene, the investors had not yet arrived. However, the police officers guarding the site reported that the owners sought permission to operate in the area from the nearby Kalungu District.
“We were deployed here by our bosses, but what I know, the investors got clearance from Kalungu District to carry out their activities here,” one of the police officers, who preferred anonymity, said.
The opening of the wetland for agricultural purposes, according to Mr Aloysius Jjuuko, the Chairperson of Bukakkata Sub County, has generated alarm among the villagers who rely only on the marshes for their water supply.
“It will be a disservice to the community if we sit back as leaders and watch when that wetland is being destroyed. It is the only source of water for over 1000 people in the villages of Nakigga and Kasanje and the investors have already started digging trenches which will eventually cause the wetland to dry up,” he said.
According to Jjuuko, the investors have already built a murram road that runs through the swamp and leads to their location.
The Nakiyaga Wetland is a portion of the Nabugabo Wetland, which includes Lake Victoria’s satellite lakes.
The system is a Ramsar site that is under protection and is recognised by the Ramsar Convention as one of the world’s most important wetlands.
In the Nakiyaga Wetland system, more than 180 different bird species have been identified, some of which are endangered globally.
The Kalungu District Environment Officer, Mr Richard Vvube, acknowledged approving the investors to operate in the region.
“It is true we gave them [Chinese investors] a license to operate in that area. They first applied in 2017 to grow rice and early this year, they sought another clearance to carry out sand mining which we also approved,” he said.
However, it was found that the investors had planted maize rather than rice on a portion of the wetland during the inspection on Friday, December 9, 2022.
Mr Vvube further maintains that Kalungu, not Masaka, is the location of the marsh where the Chinese are conducting business.
“We employed surveyors who discovered that area is geographically located in Kalungu and whoever doubts such findings, can go and crosscheck with the Ministry of Lands.” he added.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) reported that wetland coverage in Uganda has decreased from 15.5% in 1994 to around 13% in the present.
However, just 8.9% of the country’s surviving wetlands are still intact, and 4.1% have suffered degradation.
The ability of wetlands to store water and filter pollutants has been severely damaged by wetlands degradation. This has led to a decline in fish populations as well as natural disasters like floods and contamination of numerous water sources, including Lake Victoria.
READ MORE LIKE THIS: