16 June 2017

Uganda: Councillors Want District Leaders Probed Over Illegal Sand Mining

Mukono — Mukono District councillors have called for investigations into allegations that some top district officials are engaged in illegal sand mining at Wasinga village in Mpungu Sub-county.

The councillors argue that uncontrolled sand mining in the area has led to the diversion of Mukono-Nsanja-Mpunge-Kiziru road, which was reportedly done without the knowledge of the district council. Besides, the activity threatens the existence of wetlands in the area.

"There are reports that some top district officials sanctioned the diversion of the road to allow illegal sand mining in Mpunge Sub-county. What is being done in that area is threatening our environment and in-depth investigations should be carried out to establish the individuals behind the illegal activity," said Mr Lukuman Ssegayi, a Goma Division councillor on Wednesday.

According to Mukono District speaker Emmanuel Mbonye, for a road to be diverted, the council has to first pass a resolution pronouncing itself on the matter.

Unfortunately, he said this was never followed.

He said by 2012, Mukono-Nsanja-Mpunge-Kiziru road had no diversion, but when excavation of sand increased near the road, it was diverted without council approval.

"Sand miners have dug up the area, leaving behind huge deep pits. This means that if nothing is done urgently, users of that road are likely to face serious problems," he said.

In 2014, when sand miners extended their activities closer to Mukono-Nsanja-Mpunge-Kiziru road at Wasinga village, former Mukono District chairperson Francis Lukooya Mukoome swiftly intervened and halted their activities. They have since continued with their work.

Ms Faridah Muwanga, the Mpunge Sub-county chairperson, one of the people accused of abetting illegal sanding mining in the area, refutes the allegations, saying the decision to divert the road and allowing sand mining to take place in the area, was taken at the district headquarters.

"For us, we just saw people storming the area and when we tried to intervene, they told us that they had been given a go ahead by the district," she said.

Relocate school

Councillors also want Mengo Rainbow Primary School which is located near the sand mining site, to be relocated for fear that pupils may fall into deep trenches dug in the area.

"The school lacks a fence and is adjacent to the excavated area, which poses serious danger to the pupils' life," said Mr Kasozi Ssemakula, a Mpunge Sub-county councillor.

Ms Annet Nakimuli, a resident, said the diverted road entered into their gardens while some residents had their houses demolished yet they were not compensated.

Authorised

Mr Charles Mutumba, one of the people who claim ownership of part of the sand mining site, said he lawfully acquired the land and owns a land title.

"There is a lot of hullaballoo about this project, but the fact is that, I acquired that land through the right channels and whatever activity is taking place there was okayed by the district authorities," he said.

He denied reports that the sand mining project extends into private individuals' land and a road, saying the project only occupies space indicated on the title deed.

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