Contractor Abandons Construction in Masaka City Wetland

Written by on July 30, 2021

Construction works in a major wetland in Masaka City have been abandoned.

In the past, leaders in Masaka city and environmental conservation activists have been at loggerheads with a senior officer of Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF identified as Major Patrice Mugume. Mugume hired trucks to dump the soil in the wetland, clearing part of it for construction.

The Nabajuzi wetland which serves as the main catchment for Masaka district’s main water source was being damaged by heavy trucks which were ferrying and dumping heaps in its section located along Masaka-Mbarara bypass, towards Kijjabwemi trading centre.

However, the construction site is now abandoned with no activities currently taking place.

Andrew Katongole, one of the people residing in the neighbourhood of the wetland says that the works have been off for about a week now after the workers who were levelling the area left the site.

He also says that private guards who have to guard the area have since disappeared, which gives him hope that the claimant might have given up on the destructive activities.

“The works had been continuous for two weeks and residents were not allowed to get any close to the scene. But for a while now, nobody has even returned to check on the progress of the work,” he says.

At the site, some of the road-guard rails which were earlier removed to open access into the construction area; off the highway have also been put back.

Antonio Kalyanngo, the Executive Director of Biodiversity Conservation Foundation-BCF, a local environmental conservation civil society organization, says despite the halt of the activities, they want the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA to come out strong on all persons that were involved even in whatever slight destruction of the wetland.

He says that NEMA should also compel the officer to restore the wetland to its original state.

Florence Namayanja, the Masaka City Mayor says they formally complained to the authorities in the Uganda People Defense Forces-UPDF, asking them to reign over their officer who she says is evasive to the local leadership.

Namayanja says despite abandoning the site by the contractors, they have instructed the City Clerk to look for Major Mugume or his agents to serve them with orders to remove the soil from the affected wetland.

Major Ninsiima Rwemijuma, the Spokesperson of the UPDF Armoured Brigade in Masaka also declines to comment on the accusations about the officer, saying he needed time to study the matter.

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