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NEMA Moves to Arrest Chinese Firm Officials for Degrading Katonga Swamp

The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) is hunting for the owners of a Chinese company, who are accused of brazenly dumping soil over a huge chunk of the swamp that lines River Katonga in Mpigi district, in total disregard of the Authority’s directives.

The unnamed Chinese firm is said to have twice ignored NEMA instructions not to reclaim a major portion of the land it bought from a one Mwebesa.

The authority is now moving to have the company owners arrested and arraigned before court.

It has also cancelled the company’s user permit and will ensure the dumped soil is removed from the swamp at the company’s expense.

NEMA’s action is in response to a petition by the Masaka District LC 5 Chairman Mr Jude Mbabaali.

In a statement issued yesterday, NEMA revealed that the Chinese firm purchased the 40-acre piece of land in Kayabwe, in Mpigi from Mwebesa and planned to build some warehousing units on it.

However, on inspection, NEMA found that only 6 acres of the 40 were on dry land while the rest were in the swamp. They issued a user permit and approval only for the 6 acres.

NEMA later on learnt through a whistle-blower that the company had proceeded to dump trucks of soil into the swamp.

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Officials went back and issued and “improvement notice” to the developer, instructing them to remove the dumped soil and stop all the activities outside of the approved area.

Recently however, NEMA officials went back to find that this warning was ignored, and more soil was dumped in the swamp.

“Given the previous caution, we have 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,” said NEMA in a statement.

The Authority also thanked the Masaka Chairman for his vigilance.

Mr Mbabaali said while this site is not in his district, he felt concerned and decided to contact NEMA.

“I have no jurisdiction but I felt concerned, stopped, walked around to see exactly what is going on,” he said.

“When I asked the policemen I found guarding the site whether they are the ones responsible for this, they answered back that it is a Chinese company and that for them they were just hired to guard the site.”

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