Cabinet has gazetted sand, granite, murram as minerals in a bid to control over mining of the three construction materials.
There has been public concern over the uncontrolled sand mining, especially in lakes and swamps around the country but the Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, said Cabinet has approved the Mining and Mineral Policy 2018 to include the three building materials among the known minerals such as gold and copper.
“Cabinet sat on Monday at State House Entebbe and approved the Mining and Mineral policy to widen the scope of definition of minerals to include sand, granite/stones and murram among others,” Mr Tumwebaze said during a press briefing at Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday.
He said the mining policy will, among others, give the responsible minister powers to issue mining licenses and also prescribe penalties for illegal mining.
Cabinet also approved the appointment of members of the National Building Review Board to among others monitor building developments, ensure design and constructions of buildings have access for persons with disabilities, to oversee, inspect and monitor the operations of building committees.
Environmentalists have on several occasions warned that unchecked sand mining activities in lakes and major swamps across the country will lead to a serious ecological disaster. But the booming construction industry where sand is much needed seems to have blinded those in authority thus sacrificing the environment at the expense of perceived revenue.
Sand mining in Lwera, Kalungu District, has caused severe effects on the environment in Lwera wetland including water pollution, destruction of the v
egetation as well as the excavated pits and trenches ruining the beauty of the landscape.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has warned of devastating environmental consequences if Chinese investors insist on mining sand in Lake Victoria.
The plan by Mango Tree Group Ltd to excavate sand from the lake has since caused a standoff between Wakiso District chairperson Matia Lwanga Bwanika and councillors. While Mr Bwanika insists the company’s activities will kill aquatic organisms in the lake, the councillors led by the speaker, Mr Simon Nsubuga, say since the district needs money to facilitate various development projects, sand mining can be embraced as of the key revenue sources.