Is NEMA prioritising nature preservation or favouring the wealthy?

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Is NEMA prioritising nature preservation or favouring the wealthy?
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The National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) party, led by Joseph Kabuleta, has raised questions about the actions of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

The party suggests that NEMA's actions may benefit only affluent individuals who can afford certificates to evade consequences when settling in wetlands, while the less privileged cannot do the same.

During a media briefing in Kampala, Moses Matovu, the spokesperson for NEED, expressed disappointment at the unfair treatment of Ugandans by NEMA.

"It is disheartening to witness the selective application of the law, where not all houses and properties in the entoobazi were demolished. NEMA claims to have issued certificates to the spared property owners. This raises the question: Does monetary value take precedence over nature preservation? Additionally, how much revenue does the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) collect from environmental levies?" Matovu queried.

Matovu further questioned the amount collected by NEMA through certificate issuance and whether this money is utilised to compensate those affected by natural disasters.

He extended the party's sympathies to the residents of Nansana, Bwaise, and other areas who experienced brutality at the hands of NEMA.

"We also urge all Ugandans to refrain from settling in swampy areas," Matovu emphasized.

"Swamps and forests play a vital role in preserving life. They contribute to rain formation and flood control. Therefore, it is crucial that we protect these wetlands, forests, mountains, and rocks at all costs."

He proposed that the NEMA Act should be uniformly applied without exceptions.

He also suggested that factories and other establishments in the wetlands should be reassessed for relocation and given a two-year period to resettle away from the wetlands.

"Having said that, should NEMA continue to evict our fellow citizens in favor of so-called investors who disregard our wetlands? We urge all Ugandans to respond similarly and assist the government in evicting those investors who refuse to heed Mr. Museveni's calls for cooperation," Matovu added.

Godfrey Ssetumba, the National Organising Secretary of the NEED party, highlighted that the government itself is the biggest problem in the country.

"How were these houses in the entoobazi built without the knowledge of government agencies such as the National Sewerage Corporation, Kampala Capital City Authority, UMEME, among others? These agencies provide services like water, roads, and electricity to the area," Ssetumba questioned.

He raised concerns about the lack of warning from government agencies regarding the risks of building in swampy areas, indicating a lack of coordination among them and raising doubts about the government's efficiency.

Ssetumba further criticised the National Forest Authority (NFA) for allowing forests to be cleared for sugarcane plantations, hotels, and lodges while NEMA demolishes houses.

"Who is fooling whom?" he queried. He also pointed out the Ministry of Lands' role in the issue by issuing land titles and certificates for wetlands.

"As the NEED Party, we condemn these actions and stress the importance of government agencies working together," he stated.

"Harming nature means harming our country. The blame for environmental degradation doesn't solely fall on the poor in swampy areas; it also lies with corrupt individuals in government who provide certificates to the wealthy, enabling them to build in these areas. It would be shameful for NEMA to witness factories being constructed in areas where it previously demolished people's homes," he added.

The party called for a united and consistent approach from all government agencies to protect and preserve nature, emphasising that every action taken should reflect a genuine love for our country and its natural resources.

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