Wakiso District leaders together with the Ministry of Water and Environment have announced plans to cancel about 300 land titles acquired in places considered to be wetlands.
Speaking to journalists on Monday, Ms Stella Nalumansi, the Wakiso District wetlands officer, said the resolution came after they realized that some of the wetlands they had reclaimed in two years have once again been encroached on.
“According to our report, we have seen that most of the encroachers used the weekends, late hours of nights and public holidays to deplete the mentioned wetlands. We have issued some letters to encroachers to stop the activities. Failure to do so, we are going to arrest all the encroachers and even demolish all the permanent structures in wetlands,” said Ms Nalumansi.
She said of the 16 percent of wetlands in the district, 6 percent has been encroached on. Ms Nalumansi revealed that the district is in the process of restoring all the affected wetlands and warned farmers who have made it a habit to cut papyrus to mulch their banana plantations and other gardens to stop immediately.
“As district officials from the wetland office we’re working closely with NEMA, and environment police to arrest and restore all the affected wetlands. Mostly part of Lubigi has been affected by farmers who have planted bananas, eucalyptus and sugarcane but we have already engaged the police and all these plantations are going to be removed as one way of restoring our wetlands,” she added.
Mr Esau Mpoza, the Wakiso Environment officer, said before the encroachment, all the affected wetlands were waterlogged, with water drifting through the thick reeds and papyrus down to different channels leading to various water bodies, including Lake Victoria.
“Today, we are only seeing small portions of papyrus still standing and the bigger area is either been replaced by gardens or those making bricks, this is terrible trend and signals danger ahead. And after many consultative meetings which Wakiso district has had with NEMA and Ministry of lands, we have agreed to cancel more 200-300 land titles which were issued out to different wetland encroachers illegally in Wakiso district and very soon we shall begin on the process,” said Mpoza.
Mpoza added that the district has got over 200 wetlands. He said the district is continuing to do more operations to evict more people who have again encroached on wetlands.
“Since the eviction operations started the district, while working with NEMA and Environment protection, police has evicted more families in the wetlands and in the last 10 years, we have tried to evict more than 3,000 families from Lubigi and Mayanja, including taxi parks and illegal factories, which don’t have environment impact assessment among others. As the operation continues, we shall continue focusing on those two wetlands but mostly on Lubigi which is helping to filter water sewage plant in Namungona and other areas,” Mpoza said.
In 2016, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the environment watchdog had embarked on a nationwide restoration of wetlands and several gardens with flourishing maize, cassava and yams as well as sugarcane plantations in major wetlands in the district.