In a move to address the issue of flooding in the city, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has started evicting encroachers from wetlands to re-open the waterways
By Jeff Andrew Lule, Juliet Waiswa and Andrew Ssenyonga
In a move to address the issue of flooding in the city, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has started evicting encroachers from wetlands to re-open the waterways.
This follows the continuous flooding in different parts of the city during heavy downpours, which has led to continuous destruction of people's property and loss of lives.
Peter Kauju, the authority's spokesperson, says they are working together with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to handle to address the problem.
"We have started with Banda and Kinawataka waterway evicting those who constructed within the drainage channel. We are also evicting encroachers on wetlands to make sure the water can be absorbed without spreading to other areas when it rains," he said.
Last month on May 29, Isaac Okello, a fresh graduate of environmental engineering from Kyambogo University, died instantly in the Bwaise-Nabweru water channel in Kawempe division, along the Northern bypass, following a three-hour heavy downpour.
A typical rainy day in the city turns out like this
The stream which pours into Namungoona-Kyebando main channel along Northern Bypass is one of the dangerous spots every time it rains.
According to residents in the area, about eight people have died at the same spot in the recent past because of flooding.
Oswad Jawozi, a resident and security officer in Bwaise, said the area has become a death trap every time it rains.
Many residents attribute the problem to narrow and shallow channels in the area which have been filled with silt.
"People right from Nabweru, Kyebando, Kalerwe and Kawempe have constructed in the wetlands on top of blocking the streams," Moses Ssenkabirwa, another resident noted.
Other areas affected with floods include; clock tower, Port-bell road (city centre), Banda-Kinawataka (Nakawa), Nalukolongo in Rubaga, Ndeeba, Wankulukuku and Batata-in Namasuba along Entebbe road.
Abey Mukiibi 58, a resident of Nalukolongo, says the area was not flooding in the past.
"I have been here since 1980. There was no flooding until people started constructing in wetlands," he added.
When we visited Nalukolongo channel, it was already filled with silt and waste. Every time it rains, the area gets flooded from Natete through Nalukolongo industrial area, to Ndeeba as water tries to find its own way.
"Every time there is a heavy downpour, some residents are forced to seek refuge at friends or relatives' homes. We are worried we might lose lives as it continues to rain," Wankulukuku LCI chairman, Ali Ssempungu explained.
He attributed the problem to overcrowding in the area and lack of proper drainage system.
"People have cleared all the drainage channels for construction, while others are clogged with garbage. When it rains water spreads to people's homes, business and transport comes to stand still," Ssempungu noted.
Kauju said they want to expand, de-silt and reconstruct all the main drainage channels. "We have already started constructions in parts of Ndeeba and other areas.
Rubaga South MP, Ken Lukyamuzi blames everything to poor planning of the city authority.
"That is why we have slums everywhere. There is selection application of the law. If the laws were applying to everyone, who would have encroached on wetlands? But we see people who construct in wetlands without being touched, while the poor ones are harassed," he noted.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) attributed the problem to lack of standard drainage system and poor planning in the city.
Naome Karekaho, NEMA's spokesperson, said the city lacks green cover which would have absorbed the water before spreading to the surface.
"Kampala is a hilly area but we have no trees any more while people are constructing everywhere. On top of that, we lack a standard drainage system in the city to handle the large volumes of water from hills," she added.
She said there is need to plant more trees and grass in the city and reclaiming the wetlands which were occupied by people.
Karekaho noted that most of the wetlands in the city were sold and encroached on before the Environment (NEMA) Act 1994 came into place.
KCCA deputy director building and drainage management, Eng. Justus Akankwasa said they are working on a new Kampala drainage master plan, which will be a basis for sustainable urban drainage development in the city.
He said they are already working on Lubigi to reduce the flooding on in Bwaise, Kalerwe, Kyebando and Makerere areas.
Akankwasa said they are also improving drainages in the Kyambogo-Ntinda area by widening and deepening exist channels, demolition of perimeter walls encroaching on the channels and sensitizing developers on proper development practices.
"We are constructing other channels like Nabisaalu and Scout Lane in Makindye, Kakajjo in Central, Mutungo-Kasokoso in Nakawa, maintenance of Nakivubo Channel under the LVEMP project," he added.
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