Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Municipal authorities in the Ankole region are on the spot for approving construction in protected areas.
The municipalities in question include Ntungamo, Bushenyi, and Mbarara. The authorities have gone ahead to clear the construction of houses and establishment of other structures in wetlands despite calls by National Environment Management Authority-NEMA and other concerned environmentalists to block such activities.
Last year, heavy rains destroyed part of Rwizi Arch Hotel and also killed two people who were riding on a motorcycle after the drainage channel blocked affecting structures constructed in the river Rwizi protection zone.
Another structure has been constructed on the banks of Byafura stream that drains into Rwizi River in Makenke. The building believed to be owned by unidentified Mbarara businessman has developed big cracks.
Elly Muhwezi the coordinator for Uganda Citizens Alliance says that the challenges have been worsened by the municipal authorities who act with arrogance and impunity by deliberately going ahead to endorse encroachment on wetlands.
Muhwezi says that a big number of encroachers have learned how to compromise the authorities by paying bribes.
Jeconious Musingwire, the National Environmental Management authority-NEMA focal person for south-western Uganda says that the urban authorities have failed to do their work with dignity by endorsing construction in wetlands.
Mbarara Municipality Mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi says that the concerns raised by environmentalists and NEMA are genuine. He says that the vice requires collective responsibility especially from the leaders who he says should always report such issues before the situation gets out of hand.
Festo Tandeka the Ntungamo Municipality town clerk says that it is true that there were some errors and the authorities are working hard to ensure that the mistakes are not repeated. He says that the Municipality is committed to ensuring that development takes place alongside existing ecosystems.