Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 1,000 sand miners have been evicted from Kyewaga wetland, part of Kyewaga Central forest reserve in Katabi town council, Wakiso district.
The eviction also affected persons involved in Bricklaying and crop cultivating, in the wetland located about six kilometres from the Lake Victoria shoreline along the Nkumba-Kasenyi road.
The eviction conducted by the Environment police last evening followed concerns raised by several environmentalists on the continued degradation of the wetland despite ordinances to halt sand mining operations in the precincts of Lake Victoria passed by Entebbe Municipal Council and Katabi town council
Similar resolutions have been passed by the Parliament of Uganda and the Ministry of Water and Environment. A recent investigation by the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament established that one of the companies that had been granted a fish farming licence had deviated from the terms of the licence and switched to sand mining albeit without a wetland user permit for mining sand.
According to the Environment police, several other residents were found mining sand illegally, an activity which has greatly affected the ecosystem in the area, and is likely to have lifelong impacts on livelihoods and economic
Erias Kasirabo, the head of the Environmental police says the magnitude of damage on the central forest reserve is excessive and requires urgent intervention from all players.
Kassirabo, however, adds that some of the residents with food crops in the wetland and the forested area of Kyewaga wetland asked for ample time to remove all their crops.
According to Leo Twinomujuni, the Lake Shores Forest Manager under the National Forestry Authority, there are 506 central forest reserves around Lake Victoria. However, most of them have been destroyed by human activity.
The forests according to Twinomujuni help in the formation of cyclonic rainfall and without them, the formation of rainfall around lake shores is left to the water body alone, a dangerous trend which limits the amount of rain that the country receives.
Peter Mponye, the chairperson of the miners in the area, however, accuses the police of selectively applying the law. He questioned why the evicted targeted area residents only and left out non-residents who came to the area with heavy and more disastrous equipment.