By Andante Okanya
MUKONO - A Chinese investor sued by a lobby group Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), over purported pollution of a water stream in Mukono district has rubbished the lobby as an economic saboteur.
China Communication Construction Company’s rebuttal is contained in its statement of defense filed on June 20 at the civil division of the High Court in Kampala.
It is in response to a suit filed on June 19 by CEHURD, against the investor. CEHURD asserts that the suit was filed in public interest.
The other co-defendants are statutory environmental watchdog National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and Mukono district local government.
But through Muhwezi Law Chambers and Advocates, the investor contends that the Mukono residents, whom the lobby group claims to represent, have a cordial understanding with the investor.
“The plaintiff is using/abusing court process to sabotage economic development and hide behind the veil of public interest litigation in a bid to avoid costs,” the defense states in part.
Adding: “The plaintiff does not have locus to institute this suit as it is representative in nature without leave of court and the permission of the known members of the community.”
The investor states that it has acquired the necessary legal certifications from NEMA and the district local government to do business.
According to court documents, the company began operations in the area in 2012. Its activities involve blasting of rocks and grading of land.
The petition is supported by the affidavits of the CEHURD programme manager in charge of strategic litigation, Noor Nakibuuka, plus the local council leaders of the two villages.
The lobby is seeking to stop stone quarrying activities in the Mukono villages of Bamutakudde and Kiryamuli, saying it has contaminated a water stream used by the two villages.
But the investor argues that it has made all necessary precautions to better the lives of the villagers by providing clean water from a tank.
It contends that an agreement was reached to build a wall to shield the well and stream from mud.
The investor further asserts that it has not carried out any activities that interfere with access and use of the stream that the two villages depend on as a source of water.
The case file has been allocated to Justice Benjamin Kabiito, with the case pending determination.
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