KAMPALA — The environmental police attached to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) have on Friday October 13, evicted Lubigi swamp illegal encroachers in a powerful operation not seen in recent days.
The Friday morning operation, officials said, is a joint exercise with the NEMA, Ministry of Water and Environment, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the environmental protection police unit (EPPU).
William Lubuulwa, the Senior Public Relations Officer at NEMA said the eviction was re- activated following a directive by President Yoweri Museveni to restore the wetlands in the country.
We are here in Lubigi Wetland to execute the Presidential Directive. The President recently directed that we evict all encroachers in these wetlands and we have started here in Lubigi,” Mr. Lubuulwa said.
He said NEMA had frequently held sensitised them before launching an operation.
“We came here sensitized about the dangers of encroaching on such a Wetlands and also gave them restoration orders. Today we are evicting them,” Mr. Lubuulwa said, adding that the such operations will continue in other parts of the country.
“We are going to traverse the entire country. We have started here in Buesega in Kampala. We shall soon be in all other parts of the country. But I must also remind you that we have regional offices that are already carrying out similar operations.”
“Our Eastern regional office was in the field. They evicted encroachers and arrested those who resisted a lawfully operation. We are doing this in all other parts of the country. We shall indeed reach all corners of Uganda. We want to restore our wetlands,” he added.
In recent years, the Lubigi wetland has come under severe strain from human encroachment.
The government of Uganda it’sself has constructed three major projects in the wetland, contributing to its degradation.
Lubigi is one of the largest drainage basin wetlands located in the northwestern part of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.
It receives stormwater and polluted water from Kampala city and discharges it into Mayanja River and finally Lake Victoria and Kyoga.
Lubigi forms an irregular semi-circle around the city of Kampala, starting at around Kisaasi to the north, stretching westwards, passing through Bwaise and Kawaala, then stretching southwards through Busega. The swamp has feeder arms that stretch along the Kampala–Mityana Road towards Buloba, along Kampala–Masaka Road towards Kyengera, along Kampala–Hoima Road towards Nansana and along Sentema Road that stretches from Mengo to Sentema.
In his pre-independence address, the President ordered the people in wetlands to leave them peacefully and that the ones in the Bukedi-Busoga and Kigyezi areas, will be assisted to shift from wetland rice-growing to either growing that rice by irrigation on the non-wetland land or to fish-farming at the edges of the Wetlands, allowing the rest of the wetlands to regenerate.
“Those who have encroached on wetlands in other areas, must leave unconditionally because they went there, knowing it was a mistake. The ones of Busoga, Bukedi and Kigyezi, were misled by the Governments e.g., Kibimba Rice Scheme,” President Museveni revealed.
He also disclosed that he was going to come up with a more detailed Executive order to stop the damage to the environment.