By Aryampa Brighton
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) announced that effective April 1, 2023, they will start the enforcement of new fines and cash penalties for individuals and companies in breach of environmental standards.
Dr Barirega Akankwasa speaking to the media on 7th February 2023 emphasized section 174 of the National Environment Act, 2019 which lays down an express penalty scheme that intends to deter non-compliance to environmental laws and to prevent environmental degradation through payment of monetary penalties.
The express penalty scheme and other new penalties sound a success in the move to combat pollution and environmental degradation but these are just warnings that have been overtaken by events.
The National Environmental Act was enacted in 2019 so anyone contradicting environmental standards must pay.
NEMA is aware of the wetlands that have been destroyed not just in central metropolitan but nationally wide. NEMA has watched the destruction of forests starting with Uganda’s biggest forest Mabira and now, Bugoma central forest reserve which is being encroached on by Hoima sugar limited, zoka forest and many others.
It’s the same autonomous body that has been giving out certificates of approval ignoring all the regulations stipulated in the law. There are various court cases challenging the issuance of certificates from NEMA but they are now preaching environment management and its associated penalties in default. Does NEMA have clean hands regarding environmental protection?
The environmental express penalty schemes pose a big threat to ordinary Ugandans, it’s unclear with unrealistic enforcement goals. This will be shocking to one who has never used a public service vehicle (PSV) famously referred to as “taxi” but it is very small and often squashed with different people.
Where will the so-called car dustbin be put? Does this law isolate boda bodas? People who have lived in Kampala residential areas are alive to the fact that few fellows dispose of their sacks of kasasiro in front of others. That said, this is a move by NEMA to collect more revenues from Ugandans in the name of protecting the environment because laws must be precise but comprehensive.
I urge NEMA and other line bodies to put these stringent measures in to action. We know the polluters and they should pay as the law provides. In 2021, a published article titled “Extend ban on plastics to all ecosystem areas” calling government and its line bodies to prioritise areas of natural importance including but not limited to wetlands, forests, national parks and others.
As a country, we must look at those companies that are polluting the environment, that are destroying natural resourced areas, eco system areas and natural habitats not just individuals that own cars. Clean up the already rubbished rivers, streams and water channels like river Rwizi, bwaise water channels and others. This will lay a firm foundation for the citizens to protect their environment whilst in their cars and all other areas.
Finally, as a country, we should choose a better path as quickly as possible by acting very responsibly and aggressively at both environmental protection and adaptation to the changing climate so that we effectively work towards sustainable development.
The current leadership under President Yoweri Museveni should demonstrate or exhibit very robust and prudent national leadership on environment and climate to environmentally and sustainably protect the future generation. If we don’t change as fast by taming the current activities environment and in atmosphere, we may be headed for a ‘production slowdown’ in the coming years and dying future.
The ongoing environmental degradation has a cumulative effect , which means that the youngest generations will bear much of the burden of these challenges, despite not having contributed to them nor having had the opportunity to advocate for policies that would mitigate them. This is a call to all young people to stand against these environmental crimes happening in their countries.
Latest from Earthfinds
- Why You Should Not Cook Or Eat Food Cooked In Polythene & Other Plastics
- CSOs Urged To Amplify Voices Promoting Mercury Free Dentistry
- AFIEGO's Report Accuses EACOP Of Impoverishing Project Affected Persons
- Compensation Of EACOP PAPs To Be Completed First Quarter Of Next Year
- Catholic Journalists In Africa Commit To Protect And Save Earth