Kalangala district leaders have asked the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to reign over the operators of MV Kalangala, who are accused of disposing wastes directly into Africa's biggest and world's biggest fresh lake.
Led by Kyamuswa sub county chairperson Ismail Kasirye, the area leaders said that the marine vessel that ply's the Kalangala-Entebbe voyage disposes human waste directly into the water. A similar concern had earlier on been raised by travellers and environmentalists.
Environmentalists say that the practice contaminates the lake and exposes the general public to risk of diseases, the lake being the main source of water for communities on the different islands.
Ministry of Works and Transport set aside a monthly fee of up to Shs 80 million to empty the septic tank and cleaning of the lavatory services. URN has learnt that the vessel operators are supposed to empty the septic tank whenever it reaches Nakiwogo docking pier in Entebbe municipality.
But Frank Bagyuzi, a regular traveller who uses MV Kalangala, says waste is usually disposed off 20 minutes before the vessel reaches Kalangala every evening and sometimes, 20 minutes after it starts its journey to Entebbe.
"You see an operator getting into the vessel's control room and later see wastes being disposed of. It is a bad experience for us all including the tourists who smell the bad smell," Bagyuzi says.
Sadala Musoke, the managing director Nation Oil Distributors, the company that operates MV Kalangala, admits that the waste is indeed disposed in the lake but after being treated with aluminium chloride.
Musoke says international laws permits vessels operating and carrying a big number of passengers to dispose waste into lakes and oceans so as to avoid incidences where the vessel septic tanks get filled up during voyage.
However the NEMA focal person in Kalangala, Maurice Bafiilawala says it is illegal for waste to be disposed into the lake without an environment impact assessment done by NEMA and all subsidiary environmental bodies.
"Such activities should be halted until an environmental impact assessment is provided. The assessment should indicate how harmless to aquatics and human life it would be if wastes are disposed of in the lake," Bafiilawala says.
The international law on marine and pollution suggests that there should be regulation in the way waste is disposed off so as to prevent the dropping of excessive harmful substances into a water body.
This correlates with the international environment law which prohibits maritime operators from disposing wastes into a water body when there are other available ways of disposing of such wastes.