KAMPALA- President Museveni yesterday gave wetland encroachers in the country one month to leave or be forced out by the police.
President Museveni, who was launching a new water pumping station and a pipeline worth 38m Euros [about Shs146b] in Gaba, a Kampala suburb, spoke about the need to protect the environment and asked the authorities to act on the degraders before it’s too late.
“All those occupying swamps should leave in peace before police comes for them. If you have planted crops, harvest, and go away,” Mr Museveni said.
President Museveni blamed the current scarcity of water caused by drought in different parts of the country on environmental degradation.
In February 2015, the lawmakers rejected President Museveni’s orders on the reclamation of wetlands, citing “politics” in the planned cancellation of more than 17,000 title deeds issued to investors and organisations in major urban areas across the country.
The government position on wetlands ran into trouble after Water and Environment minister Ephraim Kamuntu then, presented a cadastral map, showing some 17,450 wetland titles in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts, which were up for cancellation. The line government agencies have not implemented the directive.
The MPs had asked the government to gazette wetlands, including those without titles, and insisted that planned reclamation should follow the law.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, said last month that on-going drought in several parts of the country is the largest threat to the projected growth in the economy of 5 per cent. The newly launched water project will see at least 500,000 people added to the water supply line in Kampala and Wakiso districts.
The 12km pipeline will move water from Gaba to Namasuba, where a new water reservoir with a capacity of 8 million litres has also been built.
From Namasuba, the water will be connected to different lines of supply in Kampala.
The Managing Director of National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Mr Silver Mugisha, said the new project will increase daily water supply by 50 million litres.
“We have been supplying 190 million litres in the Greater Kampala every day. With this expansion, the daily supply will increase to 240 million litres per day,” he said during the launch of the project in Gaba.
Mr Mugisha said this will cover 80 per cent of six million residents in Kampala and two million in Wakiso districts. The project funded by European Union, French Development Agency and the government of Germany is part of the corporation’s plan to connect water to all urban centres by 2020.
“By 2020, we hope to reach all urban centres and a water point in every two villages in Uganda,” Mr Mugisha said.
The Minister of Water and Environment, Mr Sam Cheptoris, said government has a master plan to start more than 130 irrigation schemes across the country.
Head of the European Union Delegation in Uganda, Kristian Schmidt, the French Ambassador Stephanie Rivoal and the German Ambassador Peter Blomeyer attended the event.