Today, Maria Wamala brings you views of legislators on what they feel should be done to save under-threat Lake Victoria.
Lake Victoria is under threat mainly by human activities. So until June 5, World Environment Day, in a campaign, Save Lake Victoria, Vision Group media platforms are running investigative articles, programmes and commentaries highlighting the irresponsible human activities threatening the world’s second largest fresh water lake. Today, Maria Wamala brings you views of legislators on what they feel should be done to save the lake
trueAlice Alaso, Soroti Woman MP and member of the natural resources committee
The only solution to the problem of polluting Lake Victoria is enforcement of the law. We do not need another law. We already have the National Environment Management Authority Act, wetland policy, fisheries Act, among others. The laxity of the law enforcement and the lack of political will is choking Lake Victoria.
Swamps have been reclaimed and no one is bothered. We do not need additional money to save the lake. All we need is the political will.
James Kakooza, Kabula County MP and member of the Natural Resources Committee
It is not money, but vigilance that the National Environment Management Authority lacks. They manage the water and sewerage systems. They should do their job. How much do they require to sensitise the masses about littering?
Litter is the main problem affecting the lake because it goes into Nakivubo Channel and ends up in the lake. If those responsible for changing the mindsets of the public about littering are not doing enough, do not expect a lot change however much money they will have in the budget.
Florence Ibi, Kaberamaido Woman MP and member of the Natural Resources Committee
The land ministry issues titles to people who acquire land in wetlands, which makes it difficult for the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to evict them. To manage encroachers, the lands ministry should stop issuing such land titles.
Human activities like washing cars and clothes in wetlands and lake should be stopped. NEMA should clearly mark wetlands because they all feed into the lake so that is clear that they are government property just like Uganda National Roads Authority has marked the road reserves.
The trade ministry should regulate industries. For example, on Jinja Road in Mbalala and Namawojolo there are industries directly interfering with the wetlands there. Why don’t those industries be relocated up-country where there is available land?
The mushrooming beaches should each have a beach management unit.
Betty Bigombe, state minister for water
We should stop developers from polluting the lake. Factories are discharging waste into the lake and this should stop. We should step up our enforcement against any activities that pollute the lake.
The Government wants to restore the lake, but the problem is the lack of strict enforcement of the law. This is because we contradict one another. We intend to meet and harmonise our activities.
Teopista Ssentongo, workers MP
As a worker, I am concerned with health and safety at the workplace for everyone. We form committees at the workplace dealing with health and safety. But many fish industries and breweries discharge raw waste into the lake, thus polluting it.
There is also cultivation on the shores of Lake Victoria, which is silting the lake We need to sensitise the population more. They seem not to know that it is dangerous for the entire country to pollute Lake Victoria and the environment in general. Fish is dying and the fish exports have gone down. How many dollars is the country losing?
We need to put in place and impose strong penalties on industries that pollute the lake so that they can serve as an example to the rest. If Industry A pollutes the lake and goes unpunished, Industry B will not see reason in spending money in treating its waste before discharging it into the lake, when there is a cheaper alternative.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) should ensure that there is 24-hour surveillance on the lake shores. Most polluters take advantage of the fact that the lake can be accessed freely by anyone and anyone can do whatever they wish on it.
Besides, can you imagine fishermen have no toilets! Where do they go? People on the lake are exploiting the Luganda saying “enyanja tenoga”, meaning the lake does not get saturated; it can take in anything any time. The ministry of health should work with NEMA and find a solution to this problem.
Jova Kameteka, chairperson, human rights committee
The Government should enforce the law. It is the right of Ugandans to a safe and clean Lake Victoria because it feeds them and provides a means of transport, among other uses.
However, the direct users, especially fishermen and those living on the shores, should be responsible enough to abide by the laws governing the lake. Fishermen should use the recommended fishing nets and those on the shores should stay 200 metres from the lake.
trueBakaluba Mukasa, Mukono South MP and member of the Natural Resources Committee
It is not a secret that industries around Lake Victoria are discharging waste directly into the lake. It is known that most waste treatment plants are not functional. The papyrus that used to sieve garbage from the water entering the lake was destroyed by wetland encroachers.
The investors and wealthy people around the lake do not respect the law of erecting buildings 200 metres away from the lake. This is known to the law enforcers, but no one is enforcing the law. The ministry of planning releases plans without evaluating the environmental concerns around the area. We need strict enforcement policies.
Politics in this matter should be controlled. We need to be firm and not allow to be compromised while making decisions affecting the lake.
Now the fish is dying and most fishermen are resorting to harvesting young fish. Before we know it, we shall have no fish in the lake.
This lake benefits all of us irrespective of our political parties.
IT'S YOUR TURN
How you can save the lake
Did you know that you could leave a legacy by mobilising your community to contribute towards a noble goal such as environmental protection or enhancing civic rights and competence?
Semei Kakungulu, a warrior and tribal leader, mobilised people in eastern Uganda to plant trees. The late Kenyan environmentalist and politician, Wangari Maathai, is still remembered for planting trees and promoting the rights of women.
Saving Lake Victoria: MPs speak out