Water Ministry Halts Activities In Lubenge Wetland Top story

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In short
This afternoon, a team of officials from the Water and Environment Ministry and Environment Police unit led by Joseph Ongol, the Assistant Commissioner in Charge of Enforcement and Policy made an impromptu visit to Lubenge wetland. Ongom tasked Tang Zong Jun, the team leader of Kehong Uganda Industrial Development Limited to explain what they intend to do in the wetland and produce documents authorising their activities in vain.

The Water and Environment Ministry has suspended the activities of Kehong Uganda Industrial Development Limited, a Chinese firm in Lubenge wetland in Luweero district citing lack of an environment impact certificate. Kehong Uganda Industrial Development Limited acquired a 99- year lease to utilise Lubenge wetland, which measures 383.092 hectares. 
 

Recently, the Chinese firm embarked on massive clearing of the wetland to pave way for rice growing, horticulture, poultry and establishment of factories. The firm also diverted water, which has been flowing into River Lugogo and Lake Kyoga for use. It also opened up roads to enable the smooth movement of tractors and workers drawing uproar from environmentalists and residents. 
 
 
This afternoon, a team of officials from the Water and Environment Ministry and Environment Police unit led by Joseph Ongol, the Assistant Commissioner in Charge of Enforcement and Policy made an impromptu visit to Lubenge wetland. Ongol tasked Tang Zong Jun, the team leader of Kehong Uganda Industrial Development Limited to explain what they intend to do in the wetland and produce documents authorising their activities in vain.
 
 
He also tasked the company officials to produce an environmental impact certificate in vain. Tang admitted that they hadn't secured the Environment impact assessment certificate from the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA. Anthony Mula, the Private Secretary in Charge of Economic Monitoring in the office of Vice President arrived few minutes later and explained to the officials that the project was blessed by line Ministers and agencies. 


Mula also explained that the Chinese firm applied for the environmental impact certificate from NEMA through the office of the Vice President and the process was still ongoing. He claimed that the company was clearing few acres of Lubenge wetland for the ground breaking ceremony on April 26th 2016, where President Yoweri Museveni is expected as chief guest.
 
 
He said the actual planting and production will begin when NEMA issues the environment impact certificate to the company. However, Ongol couldn't have any of this. He ordered the workers to halt all their activities until all the necessary procedures are followed. This angered Mula who started accusing Ongol of frustrating investors. He also stopped the investors from talking to Ongol whom he described as ''a powerless and boastful officer''
 
 

However, Ongol stood his ground told the Chinese workers that they will only resume work after receiving clearance from the Water and Environment Ministry and NEMA. Tang Zong Jun pleaded with Ongol not to stop their work, saying they were helping to create jobs for Ugandans in vain. Recently, Nakasongola district officials petitioned the ministry complaining about the activities the Chinese firm in the wetland. They also accused the company of failing to consult them on the project. 

 

About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.