More than 4,000 residents face eviction from Entebbe wetland

More than 4,000 residents face eviction from Entebbe wetland
Environmentalists have expressed concern over the increasing rate of wetland encroachment in Entebbe Municipality

Entebbe municipal authorities and residents are up in arms against a move by the Water and Environment Ministry to evict more than 4,000 encroachers on the annex of Namiiro Swamp.

The swamp stretches from Nakiwogo landing site through Lugonjo to Kigungu road after the UN Regional Service Center in Entebbe Division B. On November 29th, 2018, the Commissioner in Charge of Wetlands and Environment, Inspector Collins Oloya wrote a notice to the affected persons.

He accused the residents of continuously degrading Namiiro Wetland by operating in such a fragile eco system without the environmental impact and social assessment and relevant permits. On Monday, the Entebbe Municipality MP, Rose Tumusiime read the notice to the affected residents at a meeting.

However, the area councilor, Margaret Namakula and other leaders wondered why it has taken the Ministry more than 20 years to intervene.

In 2006, the then Lands State Minister, Baguma Isoke wrote a letter to the then Entebbe Municipal Mayor, Steven Kabuye handing over land in Lugonjo Nakiwogo to the municipality and Wakiso District Land board. Apparently, residents have built in the 200-meter buffer zone of the wetland.

More than 28 houses have been constructed on the banks of the wetland. This contravenes the second schedule of the NEMA Act and the Environmental Standing regulations. The regulations empower any local authority to preserve and protect wetlands.

The NEMA Act also bars people from participating in any human activity in a buffer zone. A buffer zone is a 200 meter stretch from a wetland preserved from any activity that would lead to the destruction of a wetland.

However, the Chairpersons of Entebbe Division A and B Stanley Namayilira and Mike Kabwama Mutebi, says no person will be forced out of the wetland.

The Entebbe Municipality Member of Parliament, Rosemary Tumusiime says they intend to petition the Water and Environment Ministry as local leaders so as to protect the interests of the developers in the wetland.

Entebbe Town Clerk, Charles Magumba, says Wetlands are important in protecting the environment and the social impact of beautifying Entebbe as it positions itself as a tourism city. The Mayor Entebbe Mayor, Vincent Kayanja De Paul says the eviction and demolition of several structures from Namiiro swamp would create a social problem affecting more than 4000 people.

He called upon all concerned institutions including the National Environment Management Authority, Wakiso District Land Board and the Uganda Land commission to demarcate the boundaries of Namiiro Swamp. But the NEMA Executive Director, Tom Okurut in an interview with Uganda Radio Network maintains that all those who encroached on the wetland should vacate.