Kayunga — The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has halted construction of a luxurious tourist lodge at Kalagala falls, on the banks of River Nile, in Kangulumira Sub-county, Kayunga District, citing environmental concerns.
The eco-tourism camp on the three-acre piece of land is being constructed by Lemala Wild Waters Lodge, a foreign-owned company. The facilities being constructed on the land include luxurious lodges and cottages.
Mr Alfred Okot, the Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Water and Environment, on Wednesday confirmed the order by Nema.
"I cannot comment on a potentially court case," Mr Francis Ogwal, Nema's natural resources manager in-charge of biodiversity, said.
Nema and Kayunga District local government had issued a letter to the developer to start construction.
But Mr Patrick Musaazi, the Kayunga senior environment officer, on Wednesday revealed that the developer failed to comply with guidelines in the certificate issued by Nema.
Mr Musaazi said the decision to halt construction of the tourism site was informed by a stakeholders' fact finding meeting convened by Mr Okot at Kalagala falls.
The stakeholders' meeting was attended by Mr Ogwal, Mr Tom Rukundo, the director of natural forests at National Forestry Authority (NFA), Mr Leo Twinomuhangi, NFA's coordinator for policy and planning, Mr Tom Sserwanga, the Kayunga District chairperson, and other government officials.
Mr Musaazi said the area where construction is being undertaken is divided into three zones; conservation, tourism and tree planting.
"The developer was supposed to set up temporary cottages but what we see are permanent structures. This matter is now at the ministerial level and we now have no powers to handle it," Mr Musaazi said.
But Mr Mark James from Lemala Wild Waters Lodges denied any violation of the guidelines.
"We have all legal documents. Nema gave us a licence and Kayunga District approved our building plan.So, I don't know what they really want," Mr James said on telephone.
He said they were working with the relevant authorities to resolve the matter.
The foreign company also owns lodges on an island on River Nile, an area which is adjacent to this controversial site.
Mr Sserwanga acknowledged they had issued a commencement letter to the developer but said he was not aware of its contents.
When Daily Monitor visited the site on Tuesday, some lodges were complete and ready for use.
The area, which the developer has fenced off, is just about 50 metres from the banks of River Nile.