MPIGI – The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has promised to institute punitive measures against a Chinese company following reports that it has filled part of River Katonga in Mpigi District with soil to reclaim land for the construction of a factory.
The matter was brought to the attention of NEMA by Mr Jude Mbabali, the chairman of Masaka District, who on Saturday said that a Chinese company had filled up section of the river near the bridge at Kayabwe with earth.
NEMA, in a statement issued on Sunday, September 29, 2019, said the Chinese company has ignored their warnings about encroaching on the wetland.
“A Chinese company acquired 40 acres of land in Kayabwe, Mpigi district from one Mwebasa, and applied to use the land to develop ware housing units. A team of inspectors from NEMA visited the site and discovered that only 6 acres of the land was dry while the rest was not. NEMA issued a user permit and approval to the company restricting activities to only the 6 acres of dry land,” the statement reads in part.
“Following an alert from a whistleblower we inspected the premises and discovered that the developer was undertaking activities beyond the approved 6 acres of dry land. We issued an improvement notice to the developer, instructed them formally to remove the dumped soil and to stop all activities taking place outside the approved area,” the statement adds.
NEMA says they have discovered that the company has continued to pursue the use of more than 40 acres of land by encroaching on the wetland.
“A team from NEMA has now visited the site and discovered that the warning and improvement notice was ignored. The company has continued to pursue the use of more than 40 acres of land by encroaching on the wetland. Given the previous caution, we have now initiated a process to cause punitive actions against the company, including cancellation of the user permit, arrest of the owners, prosecution in courts of law and restoration of the degraded area at their cost.”
River Katonga flows from Lake Wamala in Mubende to lake Victoria and travels over 100 miles while its western shores empty into Lake George. This river drains through a number of districts that include Ibanda, Sembabule, Mpigi, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Gomba, Mubende, Kiruhura, Mityana and Butambala along its main course. This river is also the foundation of the popular Katonga Wildlife Reserve, the home to over 40 species of mammals as well as more than 150 species of birds worthy billions per year in foreign exchange earnings