Politicians blamed for raising number of wetland settlements

By Moses Kidandi

The National Environment management Authority has blamed political leaders in different communities for fueling the occupation of wetlands across the country.

NEMA adds that because of continued settlements in wetlands,the heavy rains have ravaged settlements and displaced thousands, leaving businesses paralyzed and crops destroyed because major water bodies, including lakes Victoria (in the central region), Albert (western) and Kyoga (eastern), and several rivers, have spilled their excess water into the surrounding areas, displacing thousands of people.

According to NEMA, the existing laws on wetland encroachment and agricultural practices near the water bodies are supposed to be 30 meters away ,a warning that most communities have ignored.

NEMA’s Executive Director Okurut now says according to their investigation ,some politicians have acquired plots in various communities affected by flooding and have mobilized others to occupy the wetlands ,a move that has put several peoples lives at risk.

AirQo pushes for clean air for better health

By Edwin Muhumuza

Ugandans have been urged to desist from activities that contribute to poor air quality.

This is was said at the commemoration of the 14th annual Air Quality Awareness Week 2020.

The week-long celebrations were held under the theme “Better Air, Better Health,” with the aim of raising awareness on air quality and its effect on health.

Their concerns come amid the deteriorating air quality which is not only imposing a health burden on City residents but is also making the city unattractive for visitors and investments.

Most of these activities include burning rubbish and idling engine in traffic with calls now to adopting cleaner cooking initiatives, servicing cars in time, and minimizing driving and embracing carpooling and non-motorized transportation during peak pollution hours.

Among the participants were the U.S. Mission Kampala, AirQo of Makerere University, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), and the National Environment Management
Authority (NEMA)

The ,KCCA Executive Director,Engineering Andrew Kitaka noted that in addition to the 25 air quality monitors deployed within the city, KCCA had put in place interventions such as paving of roads to reduce dust with now over 210Km of roads completed and many more currently under construction. He further added that they were ensuring traffic control measures like signalization of junctions to improve traffic , the enforcement of the tobacco control act to reduce smoking in public and also working with industries on cleaner production.

The Project Lead at AirQo Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha,said that the first step in being
able to improve air quality is being able to measure it,however, reference-grade monitors are extremely expensive, and as a result, limits the scale of air quality monitoring a situation that requires more funding.

Finally in her submission,the Senior Environmental Inspector, NEMA, Jenifer Kutesakwe,noted that the proposed interventions by other stakeholders were a step in the right direction and only if human activities are moderated,while involving members of the public, then the goal to achieve clean air would be quickly attainable.

In recent years, Kampala has been cited to be among the highly polluted cities in Africa with air pollution levels over six times higher than the World Health Organizations air quality guidelines.

This was courtesy of, the AirQo project from the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University which designed and deployed over eighty (80) low-cost air quality monitors across Uganda built locally and uniquely designed to withstand the environmental and physical conditions such as dust and extreme weather conditions.

However, the recent analysis carried out by AirQo and NEMA on the effects of restriction on movement during the COVID-19 lock down, there was a drop in air pollution by up to 40% for Particulate Matter and more than 60% for Nitrogen Oxide(NO2) .This was largely a result of slow-down in traffic, commercial and other pollution generating activities.

Ragga Dee misses hearing of his case

By Sania Babirye

State is today expected to inform city hall court on whether or not they will continue with a noise pollution case against local Musician Daniel Kazibwe also known as Ragga Dee.

On the 1st of April, the case had come up for mention at city hall court to allow Ragee to take plea but as usual he was no where to be seen in the court room.

Ragge Dee as usual decided to come to court but stayed outside the courtroom chatting with his Juma Seiko as the case was called for mention.

This prompted KCCA prosecutor Elijah Ndamuran to inform grade one magistrate Patrick Talisuna that they want an adjournment of two weeks to allow them to go through the file to see if they can continue with case or drop it.

The Magistrate then adjourned the case to today and issued a third criminal summon against Ragga Dee.

On the 15th of February, Ragga Dee again missed the mention of his case despite arriving in court early.

He is needed to answer to charges related to emitting noise beyond permissible levels in his Kololo Big Mikes Bar which he co-owns with Maj Juma Seiko .

However, Ragga Dee instead of sitting in court to wait for his case, rather decided to spend all his time outside the courtroom talking to the media.

And as a result, the magistrate called his case and later adjourned it to today and also extended more criminal summons to Ragga Dee and his co accused a one Rita Nancy who is the manager of the bar.

His lawyer David Mushabe that day informed court that Ragga Dee was in talks with KCCA to have the matter settled out of court.

On the 4th of February, criminal summons were issued against Ragga Dee to answer to charges in relation to failure to comply with an improvement noise and breaking council property [seals].

Prosecution states that, Danial Kazibwe and Ritah Nancy on the 29th of February 2019 at Kololo Central division in Kampala did play music equipment emitting noise above the National permissible levels under the National environment noise standards and level regulations 2003.

On the 23rd of February, Kampala Capital City Authority closed Ragga Dee’s Bar over noise pollution, Flouting public health regulations and operating without a license.

According to KCCA the closure was part of their crackdown on places emitting noise pollution including places of worship and bars.

KCCA says such noise disturbs the peace of the neighbors.

Ragga Dee’s summon comes after some residents in the area dragged a total of Seven bars including Big Mikes bar to court over Noise pollution.

These also sued KCCA and NEMA of failing to regulate such noise coming from the said bars.

These had claimed that apart from the too much noise being emitted by such bars through music concerts and parties that goes late into the night, some of these bars had big screens and flood lights that penetrates in to their homes thereby disturbing their peace and comfort which they wanted court to stop.

However, Ragga Dee claimed that Banyima’s name was just being used for political purposes because her bar H20 was among those not sued.

While speaking to the media after his bar closure, Ragga Dee accused KCCA of double standards claiming that he had dully paid all his taxes to KCCA and that his bar was the only one being targeted yet other bars near him and emits more noise have never been closed.

Ragga Dee who also affiliates to the NRM ruling party and was the party flag bearer for the seat of Kampala Lord Mayor in the concluded 2016 General elections against incumbent Erias Lukwago, also accused KCCA of leaving many people unemployed since his bar employees more people whom he claims that would be affected with such closures.

He accussed KCCA officias of being corrupt claiming that many officials receaive bribes from especially foreign rival business owners to take other businesses mainly owned by locals down to push then out of business.

Ragee Dee also claimed that KCCA does not measure noise coming from bars but only suplies a document indicating that there is noise pollution.

He said that in December last year, he paid KCCA the license fee and has receipts including license fee for bar, pool table, restraunt, guest house and club and that if his business was found lacking in anyway, then it should have been denied the license or if it fulfilled all the required standards, then he should have been cleared and given a license

He however says that although KCCA did inspect the bar, he was never given any of the above.

He says that it would have been better if KCCA would take that energy used to close bars to close those places engaging in harmful health activities like those selling the banned smoking substances like Shisha than targeting those that comply to the set regulations especially his bar that has been in existence for the past 18 years.

He described the move to close bars as a bad economic move since such bars contribute to reducing unemployment in country by giving jobs to many Ugandans more especially the youths who are the majority population and unemployed .

NEMA warns on increasing water levels of Lake Victoria

By Moses Kidandi
The Government has warned members of the public living around lake shores of signs indicating drastic rise of water levels of lake Victoria.

According to the Executive director of the National Environment management Authority NEMA, Tom Okurut the levels will rise by 4 meters in 2021, NEMA is therefore sensitizing all landing sites across the country and surrounding villages living closer to the lake to adjust to the growing conditions .

Tom Okurut made the remarks as NEMA embarked on a demarcation exercise of lake shores in Mayuge district to pave way for resettlement of 48 villages that were displaced by the National Forestry Authority NFA from the South Basoga central forest Reserve in 1998.

NEMA is demarcating 200 meters off the lake shore for conservation as the Government plans to gazette part of the forest reserve to settle affected locals from the 48 villages .

The resettlement is President Musevenis order directing NFA to hand over five hundred Hectares which is part of the Bukaleeba Forest Reserve to over thirty thousand families that had been evicted.

Naome Karenkaho the manager public and corporate affairs at NEMA is advising people living in the fishing villages in Mayuge to shift from the low lying areas near the lake to avoid a possible catastrophe.

NEMA bans the public use of Karuma hard core

By Moses Kindadi

National Environment management Authority has banned Chinese contractors Sino Hydro from giving away the high quality rock that was extracted under ground as they constructed bunkers and other facilities at Karuma .

Several Ugandans have requested  to take up the high value rock known as muck for personal use.

How ever NEMAs Senior Environment officer  Akelo Gonasa says the rock is now a government resource which can be used for other government projects in future like the railway line and oil pipeline,she says they are strictly supervising the contractor to ensure that they comply with the set environment standards at the site.

The rock is now dumped in Murchison falls National park.

NEMA has now ordered the contractor Sino Hydro to cover the rock so as to reclaim the natural environment inside the park


NEMA admits they are still many illegal sand miners

The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has admitted that several companies are mining sand around Lake Victoria illegally.

Officials from the environmental watch body told MPs on the Natural Resources committee today that a study done in October 2015 indicated that the said companies were illegally mining sand and have degraded areas surrounding the lake in Mpigi and Kalungu districts.

Some of the companies named include Lukaya Sand Dealers Company, owned by Sun Xianzhong and Zheng Junqing, Chinese nationals, whose permit was cancelled for non-compliance in October 2015.

In October and November 2015, NEMA also cancelled the permits of Tesco Industries Limited, owned by businessman Drake Lubega; Aqua World Limited and Sim Construction Limited owned by Pastor Samuel Kakande; Capital Estates owned by John Ssebalamu; He Sha Duo Company Limited and Zhong Industries.

Dr. Jerome Sebadduka from NEMA says there have been several enforcement operations in Lwera wetland, which has prompted many of the companies to comply eventually.

Dr. Tom Okurut, Executive Director NEMA admits that several companies have blatantly failed to comply with guidelines on their permits. He says the lack of adequate staff to monitor these activities has hampered their operations.
However, legislators, including Syda Bbumba and Alex Byarugaba, accused NEMA of laxity in its watchdog role on protection of wetlands in the country.

Okurut, in response, shifted blame on the local governments which are mandated to monitor any activities in wetlands.
NEMA says plans are underway to draft guidelines to regulate sand mining activities in wetlands.



NEMA impounds over 18000 kgs of Polythene

The National Environment Management Authority -NEMA has started the process of safely disposing off over 18,000 kilograms polythene bags impounded in recent operations.

Epsilon Uganda Limited, a local waste management company is handling the incineration process conducted in Zirobwe, Nakasongola district. The exercise, expected to last one week, starts today.

This follows a directive banning the use, sale and distribution of polyethylene material below 30 microns as one of the mechanisms to protect the environment against degradation.

NEMA led an operation from April 2015 to confiscate polyethylene material and bags from traders who had initially defied the ban. The operation targeted industries, supermarkets, shopping malls and street traders across the country.

State Minister for environment Flavia Munaaba says that the company is using a new technology that incinerates the polyethylene at high temperature in order to limit any possible danger to the environment. She says the incineration will be done in sequences following the size of career bags recovered.

She was addressing a press conference at the media centre in Kampala.

Munaaba equally appealed to the general public to embrace use of alternative bags instead of the polythene bags stating that it is for the protection of the environment.

She also warned factories against engaging in more production and trade polyethylene bags commonly referred to as Kaveera and advised them to engage in the production of other plastics that are not prohibited.

NEMA records indicate that up to 39,000 tons of polythene-related waste is dumped in the environment yearly in the country and yet most of them take years to decompose.

However, Even with the ban, many retail shops still have polythene bags and are profiting from them.

Aidah Nakabugo, a shop attendant states that no better option has been identified by the Government or NEMA on the materials.  She states that although paper bags work, they have not provided the much needed alternative.






A temporary injunction against NEMA

Factories producing Polythene bags commonly known as Kaveera have again petitioned the high court this time seeking a permanent injunction against the National Environment Management authority from closing down their factories.


High court registrar Alex   Ajiiji last month issued a temporary injunction against NEMA from closing the factories and impounding the polythene bags but the injunction expired on the 9th of February 2016.


Now the factories through their umbrella body Uganda Plastic Manufacturers and Recyclers Association are accusing NEMA of ambushing them in their factories in Kampala, Mukono, Jinja and Mbale and other parts of Uganda without first investigating whether their products do not fall in the exempted category of plastics.