The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on Wednesday undertook a joint operation with environmental police and other sister agencies to restore Lubigi wetland.
The operation according to the environmental body is part of government’s efforts to save wetlands in the country.
As part of the efforts, NEMA confirmed that a total of three people were arrested in the exercise and several others are on the run.
“The suspects will be prosecuted in court,” NEMA said in a statement.
“Today’s activity also included removal of alien plant species which had been introduced into sections of the wetland, including the cutting down of eucalyptus trees that are known to degrade the ability of wetlands to hold water,” NEMA said in a statement.
The Lubigi which is the largest wetland in Kampala City had been severely compromised by illegal encroachment in the form of settlement, agriculture, dumping of murram and draining.
The wetland system serves as a critical water catchment area for the central region and is a major source of water for the water stressed areas of the cattle corridor in Central Uganda.
Also, rain water from the northern and western suburbs of the city such as Bwaise, Kisaasi, Kawaala, Busega, Mengo and surrounding areas drains via underground aquifers and surface run-off, into the Lubigi wetland.
Despite the above important ecological functions, data shows that wetland coverage in Uganda has declined from 15.6% in 1994 to 8.9% by 2017 at a rate of 2.5% per year.
NEMA warns that unless radical measures are instituted immediately to restore the integrity of Uganda’s wetlands, coverage may reduce to 1.6% by 2040.
NEMA warned that Wednesday’s operation is the first of several others that have been planned to apprehend persons who illegally settle in wetlands and/destroy critical ecosystems.
“We once again appeal to all those affected to voluntarily leave wetlands and seek advice from responsible lead agencies on how best to sustainably utilise natural resources,” NEMA appealed.
The body further cautioned against the consumption of foodstuffs grown in urban wetlands such as Lubigi, because they are laden with heavy metals which are dangerous for human health.