The Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, Hon. Alex Byarugaba has faulted the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for failure to monitor the activities of sand mining in Wetlands.
While speaking at a press conference in Parliament today, Hon. Byarugaba said that the NEMA is duty bound to regulate activities that happen on wetlands but because of the organization’s reluctance, environmental degradation is on the increase around areas where sand mining is being carried out such as the shores of Lake Victoria and Lwera.
“There are companies that were given fishing licenses but have diverted to sand mining while others are operating illegally”, Hon. Byarugaba noted.
He added that some companies were using sophisticated machinery to extract sand out of Lake Victoria without regulation and consideration for aquatic life.
“This poses a serious threat to the flora and fauna in and around Lake Victoria, a problem which can have adverse effects on the environment and may take a very long time to recover from,” he said.
Byarugaba added that NEMA must provide information on the type of companies it licenses so that there is a distinction between those involved in sand mining and the land owners where the mining takes place.
The Committee also expressed concern over the lack of coordination between environmental officers and NEMA, citing it as a contributing factor to the lapse in environmental regulation.
He noted that the environmental officers were under funded and stressed that Ushs. 6million in the budget is insufficient to cater for the environmental officers who monitor big districts like Mpigi.
The Committee which is investigating sand mining activities in areas around Lake Victoria also visited Karuma and Isimba power dams and expressed disappointment on the use of junior engineers in the construction of Uganda’s biggest power project.
It also noted that there were foreign employees without work permits and urged the Ministry of Internal Affairs to tighten regulations on work permits.