By George Busiinge
The wetland demarcation exercise in Hoima municipality has left dozens of settlers in balance after they were found to be settling within the wetland reserve land. The affected include car washers, churches, schools and residential houses in areas of Kiryatete, Bujumbura, Mparo and many others.
The ministry of environment together with Hoima district local government and Hoima municipality two weeks ago launched a wetland demarcation exercise for all tributaries of river Wambabya. However some of the affected residents blame the project implementers of being unfair as they demanded for compensation.
Rashid Tindyebwa, a resident of Bujumbura Kisiramu wondered why the exercise also affected building for those whose houses had approved building plans by the municipality.
Stella Atuhairwe, the ahead teacher Pentecostal Nursery School which was also affected said they were advised by the municipality officials to leave only 25 metres as buffer zone but were shocked to the told of recent that it’s supposed to be 30 metres.
However Rev. Francis Ntegyirize, the program’s coordinator for Navigators of Development Association welcomed the initiative and advised the affected people to voluntarily vacate or else negotiate with officials to give them more time.
Kennedy Mugume, the coordinator Mid-western Region Anticorruption Coalition the exercise should be embraced by every Ugandan since it’s for the good of the country.
Nicholas Magara, the regional wetland coordinator from the department of Wetlands in the Ministry of Water and environment who is overseeing the exercise, says that demarcation which kicked off last week says that this will help the community know the boundary of a wetland.
He says the demarcation exercise which includes retracing the wetland boundaries and placing mark stones in the radius of 30 metres from the river water flow will guide those neighboring it to know their fate and respond as the law stipulates.
Addressing a stakeholders meeting at Kasingo district headquarters, Magara said over 400 pillars have been stocked ready for planting as boundary marks. Joseline Nyangoma, the district environment officer said that most of the of the wetlands in district and municipality have been encroached on in the last seven years for car washing, brick making, rice growing among other illegal activities.
Mary Grace Mugasa, the municipal mayor welcomes the demarcation exercise saying they have done their best but people keep returning to where they have been evicted.
She however expressed concern over laxity in implementing environmental laws. John Steven Ekom, the Hoima Residence District Commissioner however called for community involvement in the excise and brining other wetlands on board. The leaders however noted with concern over settlers in wetlands with approved housing plans.