By George Busiinge
The State Minister for Environment Mary Goretti Kitutu has blamed environmental protection agencies in lower local governments for failing to utilize their mandate to protect forests, wetlands and other ecological sensitive areas from destruction.
Addressing a regional dialogue on the assessment of the underlying issues affecting environment at the Hoima district headquarters in Kasingo Thursday afternoon, Kitutu said the environment act empowers local government officials to protect forests and wetlands but this is not being done.
She directed the district environment officers to work with district leaders and environmental police to evict forest and wetland encroachers in the region. She warned leader’s against settling immigrants in forests and wetlands saying Bunyoro risks turning into a semi-arid area in the near future if trees are not protected.
Meanwhile, the executive director of NEMA Dr. Tom Okurut appealed to the district leaders to take special interest in administering express penalties to those carrying out illegal activities in wetlands and forests. He said the authority is working with the ministry to enact a revised environmental act which will address the weak penalties in the current law.
Joseline Nyangoma, the Hoima district senior environment officer said limited funding, uncoordinated operations and limited political will was to blame for forest and wetland destruction. The leaders resolved to embrace their roles in management of wetlands, noise pollution, waste and fragile ecosystem.