The President said no one has the right to evict or interfere with the works of the people in the area
No one has a right to get a title within the Lwera wetland, President Museveni said as he met residents of Kamaliba Village, Nkozi Sub County in Mpigi District on Sunday.
The meeting, convened by Lt Col Edith Nakalema, a presidential aide, followed the eviction and demolition of houses and commercial structures of residents by people purportedly owning titles to the wetland, according to statement issued from State House.
“This area is part of the Lwera wetland. No one has got the right to get a land title here. You can only be licensed to use it as long as it does not contravene the land law. The wetlands should be maintained as they are without conflicting with their preservation," said Museveni.
He reiterated that there should be no more quarrels over the ownership of the wetland, adding that it was government property where no permanent structures should be erected.
The President said no one has the right to evict or interfere with the works of wananchi in the area, noting that only semi-permanent structures, meant to facilitate the fishing industry, could be set up.
Fish breeding sites, Museveni added, must be protected while no cultivation should be done in the area.
The President warned that government officials who issue titles for wetlands would be arrested, noting that even local government workers caught in the web would not be spared.
“After making the lake barren you came here and started damaging the wetland. I appeal to you to observe and respect the law. The laws are there for a purpose," he said.
Museveni instructed officers of the environment watchdog, NEMA, to provide clear guidelines to wananchi on how to erect the semi- permanent structures that are expected to serve the fishing community in the area.
He disclosed that the NRM Government would soon facilitate irrigation especially in Kalungu. He told the gathering that the water that is required for the purpose must be collected from river Katonga and its neighbourhood. He reminded them to protect the area in efforts to protect fishing.
Museveni said he would send an officer to assess the situation and see how best to provide the evicted families with a soft landing.
He proposed that they form a committee of 20 people with the task of cooperating with NEMA and the Ministry of Finance on how best to solve the issue of resettling affected people.
He said that the Government may look at possibilities of providing them with building materials such as timber for semi–permanent structures.
The President also refuted claims that some of the wetland grabbers had his blessing, saying he had no interest in the wetland.
One of individuals the community has been at conflict with is Pastor Samuel Kakande who has commercial interests in the wetland.
Israel Ochwo, an official from the Inspectorate of Government, said land titles issued for the wetlands were illegal and would be cancelled.
The Lwera wetland is a catchment area for several rivers that flow into Lake Victoria, and sand serves as a water purifier. It is home to various terrestrial and aquatic species.