The company got a permit from NEMA to carryout mining
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has stopped Hong Hai Jain a Chinese company from mining sand from Lweera a wetland along Masaka Mbarara highway.
The move was a result of NEMA realizing that the company was using sand drainer, a machined not recommended for a mining.
According to the NEMA legal counsel Sarah Naigaga, the company got a permit from NEMA to carryout mining in the area however it did not follow the conditions in the permit like mining to a depth of 20 meters.
She explained that the sand drainer is damaging technology that NEMA cannot embrace as it mines to a level that is unsustainable.
She further explained that the machine digs a depth of 12 meters down adding that that depth is way too long to allow the regeneration of sand in the area.
She said the company got a permit from NEMA to carryout mining. However she adds that they did not follow the conditions in the permit like mining 200 meters away from the road.
She added that NEMA recommends miners to dig only 3 meters down to allow the regeneration of sand in order to conserve the environment.
"The machine is a damaging technology as it mines to a level that is unsustainable. The depth which it digs is too long and cannot allow regeneration of sand," she explained.
She further explained that they had stopped the company from mining after finding out that they were exceeding the recommended depth.
She noted that NEMA notified the company to stop the mining and ordered it to restore the sand. However they reapplied to carry out a fishing project in the area saying they could not relocate the sand a request NEMA allowed.
The chairperson NEMA board Prof. J.H Nyeko Pen Mogi ordered the company to stop the activity on spot upon realizing that it was not preparing a fish pond as they had requested but mining more sand exceeding 12 meters down the ground.
Mogi argued that NEMA is conscious on how Lweera is used. He urged the NEMA officials to always carry out constant supervision on the approved projects to avoid people from breaking environmental laws.
The Mpigi District Natural Resource officer Polly Birakwate said that as authorities they always intervene in investors’ operations which break the law and take away their licenses.
Birakwate added that investors are also a challenge to the district officers as they bring in different plans when starting work but however switch to other plans in the same area after a while.
Efforts to speak to the Hong Hai Jain company owners were futile as workers at the site reported that they were currently unavailable.