NEMA officials under heavy police protection slashed plants that majorly included cocoyams and sugar canes. The Kyenjojo District Environment Officer, Julius Bigabwa, said that last year, they gave residents seven months to vacate the swamp but they didn’t pay heed.
National Environment Management Authority - NEMA officials
spent the better part of Wednesday cutting down crops in Nyansimbi swamp in
Butiiti town council in Kyenjojo district in an effort to save River
Muzizi. In 2018, NEMA moved to restore R. Muzizi, which snakes through Kagadi,
Kyegegwa, Kibale and Mubende districts.
To achieve their goal, NEMA said they would remove illegal
structures, plants and crops from wetlands, close drainage channels and enforce
evictions from the river banks and its catchment areas. River Muzizi is so
important because part of its catchment hosts the 3.1 Megawatt Sogahi
Hydropower Project on River Sohagi. It
is also a major water source in the districts where it is found.
For some time now, NEMA in conjunction with Kyenjojo District Environment Office
and Kyenjojo Resident District Commissioner – RDC have been issuing eviction
notices and sensitizing communities around the river against degradation. However, on Wednesday, the story was
NEMA officials under heavy police protection slashed
plants that majorly included cocoyams and sugar canes.
District Environment Officer, Julius Bigabwa, said that last year, they gave residents
seven months to vacate the swamp but they didn’t pay heed.
Bigabwa says that they had no option other than destroying
the crops, some of which seemed to have even been planted in the seven-month
period since they were young.
//Cue in: “Tukatanga abantu boona…
Cue out… ngu timukugarukamu.”//
One of the residents Zabibu Kawamara, who had planted cocoyams in the swamp,
said he was much aware that what he did was illegal but added that he had no
option because he lacked land. He asked NEMA to consider giving them at least
three more months to harvest the remaining crops.
//Cue in: “Amazima gali tuli…
Cue out… eyitwakozere tugirugemu.”//
Francis Byarugaba, the Nyarugongo LC 1 chairperson also pleaded with the NEMA
officials to only cut eucalyptus trees and sugarcanes, which were in the swamp
but give chance to those with yams to harvest them, saying that most
farmers are facing financial challenges.
Herbert Nabaasa, an official from NEMA, allowed the owners of the yams that
were not destroyed to harvest them in the next three months, saying once the
deadline passes, it will not be extended.
In July 2018, NEMA also slashed several acres of crops and eucalyptus trees
illegally planted in Nombe Wetland in Kyankwanzi sub-county in Kyenjojo
district. The crops included maize, cassava, sugarcanes, Irish potatoes,
cabbages and tomatoes.
Bigabwa then said
that the decision was in line with President Kaguta Museveni’s directive to
have wetlands across the country restored.