Uganda: Chaos As Nema Orders Closure of Flooded Beaches

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has directed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to close three beaches and two markets, citing "untenable" use after rising levels of Lake Victoria.

Nema also ordered that gardens of Speke Resort Munyonyo be closed for putting up non-approved structures on the shores.

Gaba, KK and Ddundu beaches were ordered to cease operations while markets at Mulungu and Gaba landing sites were ordered closed, with Nema asking KCCA to relocate all vendors working there.

The first casualty of the closure yesterday was Mulungu Landing Site where vendors were evicted.

Nema executive director Tom Okurut yesterday said he recommended the closures in an April 24 letter to KCCA executive director Andrew Kitaka.

"Yes we asked for closure of various places, including markets and beaches. I understand steps at Mulungu have been taken," he said by telephone.

In his letter, Dr Okurut asked KCCA to declare all buildings in the flooded swathes of Speke Resort unusable by the public.

Dr Okurut said Nema's rapid assessment established that the flooded sections at Gaba, Mulungu as well as the beaches were illegally reclaimed from the dry lake shores and structures therein erected with no approval.

"The current lake level is expected to remain so for a foreseeable future and renders any use of these sections untenable," he wrote.

The proprietor of Speke Resort Munyonyo, Mr Sudhir Ruperellia, also told Daily Monitor by telephone that only his gardens were affected by the water.

"The main Munyonyo hotel is okay. It's only the gardens that were affected and good enough there are no structures there," he said.

Early on Sunday, police witnessed the eviction at Mulungu, which had been peaceful until area Member of Parliament Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) ordered the vendors to return their property into the market.

Some did so while another group pounced on the fence that had been erected to prevent entry, breaking it and running away with the iron sheets.

At that moment, police fired teargas as some vendors retaliated with stones. Two women collapsed as a result of teargas.

The chairperson of Munyonyo Fish Forkers Company, Ms Dizy Mukasa Nabaweesi, said she would continue negotiations with Buganda Land Board (BLB) to ensure they are left to work at Mulungu Landing Site.

"Our vendors left the submerged area two months ago and we shifted to a safer area at the upper side of the landing site. It is safe for us to continue working here because common sense can't allow anyone to vend from water," Nabaweesi said.

Mr Ssewanyana insisted that KCCA and BLB were taking advantage of Covid-19 and floods to evict the vendors.

"This place has had a long standing land conflict where tycoons want to take this land through KCCA and BLB. We will, however, fight on so that our people are not deprived of their working space," he said.

BLB spokesperson Joseph Kimbowa, who was at the scene, denied any knowledge of the eviction by Nema and KCCA.

The Makindye Deputy Resident City Commissioner said there will be a joint meeting between KCCA, BLB and the vendors today).

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