Kakumiro, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several wetland encroachers in Kakumiro district have refused to vacate wetlands despite the six-months ultimatum issued to them.
The encroachers are currently planting rice, tomatoes, and cabbages among other crops in the wetlands.
Some of the major wetlands that have been degraded are Mabengere in Kisiita and Mpasana sub-counties, Mpongo in Mpasana sub county, and Kabale in Katikara sub county.
In March, the Kakumiro District Natural Resources Committee and District Security Committee gave the encroachers a six months’ ultimatum to vacate or face forceful eviction. However to date, the encroachers have not vacated the wetlands and they are continuing to cultivate in the wetlands.
Mackline Namiyingo, the Kakumiro District Environment officer says now that the six-months ultimatum issued to the encroachers has elapsed, they are going to use all possible means available to ensure that the encroachers are forcefully pushed out of the wetlands.
Patrick Kasibante, one of the people who have planted rice in the Mabengere wetland, says they want more time allocated to them to harvest their crops before they are forcefully evicted.
Section 36 of the National Environment Act provides for the protection of wetlands and prohibits reclamation, erection of illegal structures, and empowers authorities to demolish any structure that is fixed in, on, under, or above any wetland.
The Act also empowers districts to manage wetlands within their jurisdictions and ensure that their boundaries are clearly demarcated so that even as water levels and wetland vegetation recedes, the communities are clear on where the boundaries lie.