Wakiso, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 3 major wetlands in Wakiso district have been destroyed and turned into farms for cultivation. The wetlands around River Mayanja covering Kyengeza, Gobero, and Mende villages among other areas have been turned into gardens for cabbages, maize, and vegetables.
Residents and their leaders in the respective areas attribute the destruction of the wetlands to impunity. Cate Namuddu, the Wakiso District Secretary for Environment has appealed to the office of the Prime minister to intervene to save the wetlands. She made the appeal during an inspection exercise in Mende in Wakiso on Saturday.
Namuddu warns that the chemicals used by the encroachers would contaminate the water sources and expense the residents to danger. She appealed to the environmental authorities to intervene and direct the restoration of the degraded wetlands to enable nature to rejuvenate.
Wakiso LC V chairperson, Matia Lwanga Bwanika described all the activities in the wetlands as illegal and directed the encroachers to immediately remove their crops. However, noted that the fight against the encroachers fails many times because upon evicting the farmers, the rich establish factories, which creates a conflict between the leaders and residents.
Bwanika also attributes the rampant destruction of the wetlands to the lack of resources to facilitate the personnel in carrying out the enforcement against the encroachers. He said that the environment police are not facilitated with transport, which makes their work difficult.
Mende Sub County LC 3 Chairperson, Peter Ntume, said that they are worried because most of the natural reserves have been destroyed, which has had a negative impact on the infrastructure developments like roads.
He also attributed the flooding of roads to the destruction of the wetlands, which cost the local governments money for the reconstruction of bridges and installation of culverts. The affected roads, according to Ntume, include Kyoga – Banda Road, Banda – Mende road, Kisimbiri road, and Mende – Gombe, which are submerged due to rainfalls.
He attributed the dry spell and irregular rain to the destruction of the natural reserves. Ntume also asked the residents to join the effort and be on the lookout and report any encroachers on the wetland for the conservation of the ecosystem.
In April 2020, President Museveni directed all wetland encroachers to vacate the respective areas to restore the natural reserves to save the country from the negative effects of Climate change. Officials say that following the presidential directive, the encroachers were granted 6 months within, which to harvest their crops and vacate as directed.
The rich should not be above the law but they should respect what the law says.