By Andante Okanya
MUKONO - The National Environmental Management Authority and a Chinese investor have been dragged to court for negligence of a purportedly polluted water source used by Mukono residents.
Lobby group Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) filed a petition at the civil division of the High Court in Kampala on June 19.
NEMA’S co-respondents are China Communication Construction Company and the Mukono district local government. The petition is a public class action.
Through Kabanda and Company Advocates, CEHURD 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.
The petition is supported by the affidavits of the CEHURD programme manager of strategic litigation, Noor Nakibuuka, plus the local council leaders of the two villages.
Court documents show that the company commenced operations in the area in 2012, its activities involving blasting of rocks and grading of land.
Nakibuuka, also a lawyer, states that she visited the villages and witnessed the contamination.
“I saw the natural stream from which the residents draw their water contaminated by stone dust from the pile of crushed stones at the production site,” she says.
Following her observation, she drafted a resolution addressed to the Chinese company, requesting for provision of clean water for the affected communities.
The company, she says, was asked to schedule a consistent time and day on which to blast the rocks.
Nakibuuka faults the district local government and the company for ignoring pleas to avert the environmental crisis.
The Bamutakudde village LC 1 chairperson James Mugoya says he works and has resided in the area since 1999, adding that the area residents have depended on the stream as a source of safe and clean water for domestic purposes.
The local leader says the Chinese company’s activities have resulted in health complications from inhaling of dust and drinking contaminated water.
Maria Kyaziike, the secretary for women in Kiryamuli, Kyampisi sub-county, has resided and worked in the area since 1977.
She says the rock blasting has resulted in cracks forming on people’s walls, shattered windows and loosening of doors as a result of the vibrations.
Court is yet to schedule a hearing date, and the defendants are yet to respond.
When New Vision contacted the NEMA spokesperson Naome Karekaho over their knowledge of the suit, she said she would ascertain the details from the body’s legal department.