The swamp crosses Kampala-Masaka road at Busega and also crosses Kampala-Hoima Road at different sections before draining into Lake Kyoga
The executive director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Dr. Tom Okurut says the destroyed 200 acres of Lubigi swamp have been encroached upon.
The swamp has been invaded by cultivators after repeated bushfires which local residents believe is being motivated by land grabbers.
Okurut was speaking at a press conference over the weekend after inspecting the swamp. He was accompanied by a team of inspectors to the expansive swamp that drains water from Kampala and Wakiso.
The swamp crosses Kampala-Masaka road at Busega and also crosses Kampala-Hoima Road at different sections and draining into Lake Kyoga.
“This is a vital ecological system and we are not going to leave it in the hands of encroachers,” he said, adding that this was one of the vital ecological systems for Kampala.
Apart from Kampala and Wakiso, Lubigi, which is also known as River Mayanja crosses several districts including Nakaseke and Luweero before pouring its water into Kyoga.
The wetland has suffered massive encroachment in the last three months during presidential campaigns and elections.
“As political campaigns intensified towards elections, the law enforcement agencies were not active on the ground to check destruction of the environment,” said Charles Musisi, a resident of Busega said.
“The encroachers took advantage of the situation and penetrated deep into the wetland.”
He added, “the encroachers keep on setting the wetland on fire and a few days later they cultivate yams in the swamp.”
In an inspection by The New Vision last week, cultivators were seen planting yams and others which were planted earlier have sprouted in the swamp.
The encroachers have made repeated attempts to encroach swathes of Lubigi within the last decade but the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Wetlands Management Department have kept most of them out of the swamp.
The swamp has been invaded by cultivators after repeated bushfires which local residents believe is being motivated by land grabbers. Photo by Gerlad Tenywa
In a separate interview, environmental activists blamed Government saying that the construction of the northern bypass and the Entebbe Express way currently under construction as part of the problem.
Others include the new sewage works constructed in the middle of Lubigi swamp.
“Government should have led by example by construction its facilities outside the swamp,” said Robert Bakiika, the head of Bwaise Environmental Facility.
He added, “There is a big problem because Government which has more resources is building over swamps and it is telling the urban poor to go and buy land outside the swamp.”
He said Government had set a precedent in many places and that conservation is mainly driven by awareness, appreciation as well as the goodwill of the people which are being eroded.