Dr Jerome Sebadduka Lugumira, the Natural Resources Manager in Charge of Soils and Land in NEMA, says that only seven out of the 20 companies that were mining sand from 23 sites in Lwera by October 2016 have managed to stand the test of time.
Vigorous monitoring and routine checks by the
National Environment Management Authority- NEMA has forced some companies to
abandon sand mining in Lwera swamp along the Kampala-Masaka highway.
Dr Jerome Sebadduka Lugumira, the Natural Resources Manager in Charge
of Soils and Land in NEMA, says that only seven out of the 20 companies that
were mining sand from 23 sites in Lwera by October 2016 have managed to stand
the test of time.
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Some of the licensed firms include Capital
Estates Company, Parkson Hong Kong Investments, Seroma Limited, River Katonga
Investments and Pastor Samuel Kakande’s, Aqua World Limited. The remaining
firms were dragged to court for contravening NEMA guidelines.
Dr Lugumira reveals that when
NEMA issued a notice to all sand mining companies to comply with a number of
rules and regulations in 2016, the majority of them failed and were suspended from
carrying out any activities in the wetland. He, however, faults Mpigi and Kalungu district
authorities for allowing artisanal miners to continue extracting sand from
Lwera without NEMA’s approval.
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Dr Lugumira disclosed this
during a visit by the Environment State Minister, Beatrice Anywar to inspect
sand mining activities and rice growing scheme in the 20km long stretch, which
is being blamed for the rising water levels that have resulted in severe
damage to Kampala-Masaka highway and resident’s property. He assured residents
that the strict measures put in place to save Lwera swamp from destruction by
sand mining activities and restoration cannot allow environmental degradation.
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The Restoration process of Lwera swamp, according
to NEMA Executive Director, Tom Okurut involves the removal of the topsoil to
extract sand and return of the soil after two months before they plant grass.
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Despite the explanations by environmental experts, residents
attribute the challenges related to the increasing water levels they are facing
in their areas on sand mining.