Gov’t stops illegal sand mining in Lwera

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Lands minister Amongi

Government has taken action to stop illegal sand mining in Lwera wetland and regulate those legally involved in the activity.

This follows concerns raised by Members of Parliament last year on the illegal activity and its impact on the landscape and environment.

It triggered an inquiry by the Committee on Natural Resources on key issues regarding sand mining in the wetland.

The Committee interacted with various individuals and companies engaged in sand mining and with relevant Government agencies and institutions that regulate the activity.

The Committee recommendations included; cancelling of land titles in wetlands and issuing guidelines on those with licenses to engage in related activities; the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) halting sand mining activities under-taken without certificates of approval of Environmental Impact Assessment and also institute legal actions against sand miners.

The Committee also recommended that NEMA immediately stops issuing addendums to wetlands or lake user permits without prior independent Environmental Impact Assessments or environmental audits for alternative equipment or activities.

Effective December 2016, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Betty Amongi, said that the Ministry had “Issued notices of the cancellation of land titles; and is mapping potential sand mining areas to take note of all activities transpiring in that area.”

She also said that the Ministry was working with other Ministries concerned to implement the recommendations.

The Minister of State for Environment, Hon. Mary Goretti Kitutu, said the Ministry together with NEMA had taken steps to implement the recommendations from the Committee.

“A number of sand mining activities have been stopped by NEMA; the issuance of addendums and sand mining permits withdrawn; patrols on water bodies have been mounted to curb sand mining and dredging on water bodies; and we have stopped all companies engaged in illegal mining and prosecuted some in court,” she said.

The Minister added that NEMA and the Ministry were in the process of implementing all recommendations made by the committee.

The Committee had also instructed the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to cancel, with immediate effect, Fish Farming Permits issued to Aqua World (U) Ltd and Capital Estates for fishing in swamps.

The Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, directed the Committee on Natural Resources to investigate the matter further to ascertain whether its recommendations were being implemented by the relevant Ministries.