Nema, KCCA evict 100 families from wetland

Residents of Ganda village, Wakiso Sub County in Wakiso District are crying foul after NEMA demolished their houses on May 27 leaving them homeless. They have appealed to the government for support in the form of shelter and food to feed their children.

More than 100 families residing in Ganda Village, Wakiso District have been left homeless after they were evicted from their houses situated in a wetland.

The evictions conducted on Monday by an enforcement team from both National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) also left properties worth millions destroyed.

Ms Margaret Nabankema, one of the victims, said by the time the eviction took place, she had gone to work, and all her household items were destroyed.

“I was not able to rescue any single item from the house because by the time I arrived, they had already pulled down all the structures,” Ms Nabankema said.

She added that they have nowhere to go and appealed to the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to provide them with food items and shelter.

“We were not notified prior to the eviction, and we are now homeless. I have nowhere to take my children,” Ms Nabankema said.

Mr Khalid Nganda, another victim, expressed his disappointment with Nema for evicting impoverished people owning small semi-permanent houses and sparing a local gin distilling factory in the same vicinity.

“If they are saying they don’t want people in Lubigi, we want to see all people evicted. Part of that factory is in a wetland but it was not demolished,” Mr Nganda said.

Mr Abubakar Batuusa, a councillor representing Ganda at Wakiso Sub-county, blamed the evictions on area chairperson who he accused of signing on sales agreements when residents buy plots of land in a gazetted wetland.

“All victims of these latest evictions knew the land is in a gazetted marshland but decided to keep quiet over selfish interests,” he said.

Floriculturists operating from Lubigi wetland, who were also evicted, have since cried out to the government for help.

Mr Umar Katumba, a floriculturist, said he makes a living from preparing various types of flowers, which were destroyed during eviction.

“The eviction has come at a time when children are going back to school. Where are we going to get school fees from?” Mr Katumba wondered.

The Kampala Resident City Commissioner, Ms Aminah Nanziri Lukanga, who visited the area on Monday, said she feels sorry to see people crying after their houses were pulled down but insisted that prior notices were issued before the eviction exercise although encroachers ignored them.

“We are trying to restore our depleted wetlands around Kampala Metropolitan Area because encroachment is dangerous to our ecosystem,” Ms Lukanga said.

Wakiso District Environment and Natural Resources Committee has organised a monitoring tour to ecological locations where Lake Victoria water levels have risen, causing havoc to neigbouring communities.

Ms Rebecca Bukenya Ssabaganzi, Wakiso District natural resource officer, said all the activities that affect the quality and quantity of waters are supposed to be stopped.

“Lubigi is a primary wetland that serves the city to receive all the water that flows from hills of Namungoona, Kasubi, Masanafu and Nabweru. We cannot let it disappear under our watch,” she said.

Authorities have in the past decade been evicting encroachers in Lubigi but some defiant encroachers keep constructing new houses and makeshift business structures in the area.

Last year, Nema and KCCA enforcement team mowed down kiosks, gardens of several food and cash crops such as cassava, potatoes, maize and sugarcane in a bid to protect the marshland. However, several encroachers returned to the marshland just a few months later.

In 2017, Nema warned that should Lubigi disappear, the entire Central Cattle Corridor, which includes Luweero, Nakasongola and Nakaseke, among other districts, would not have water .

Lubigi wetland is one of the marshlands facing extinction despite its critical roles of filtering, retaining and controlling floods in and around the surrounding districts of Wakiso and Mpigi .

Section 36 of the National Environment Act provides for protection of wetlands and prohibits any person from reclaiming, erecting or demolishing any structure that is fixed in, on, under or above any marshland.

Original article

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Photo: Police officers provide security to the enforcement team which carried out the eviction at Ganda Village in Wakiso District on 27 May 2024. Source: Noeline Nabukenya.

• Access to natural resources
• Destruction of habitat
• Displaced
• Displacement
• Environment (Sustainable)
• Forced evictions
• Housing crisis
• Housing rights
• Local
• Norms and standards
• Public policies
• Squatters