Teargas, bullets disperse MPs from Lubigi wetland

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Teargas, bullets disperse MPs from Lubigi wetland
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The Nansana police have dispersed Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) with teargas and bullets who were checking on evictees of a demolition exercise.

The victims are those whose houses were demolished by the National environment management authority (NEMA) last week for encroaching on Lubigi wetland in Wakiso District.

The legislators were led by the Leader of the Opposition Joel Ssenyonyi.

By 10:30am, the legislators had touched base in Nansana.

Upon arrival, the police blocked them from accessing the scene resorting to dispersing the crowds who had joined the MPs in solidarity.

As teargas filled the air and bullets shattered tranquility, the scene was turned into a din of chaos and confusion.

The use of force followed a disagreement between the police and the Opposition, with the police stating that they were unaware of the MPs'plans

After the legislators insisted on their plan to visit the affected people, the situation escalated with gunfire, forcing people to flee.

Ssenyonyi condemned the excessive force used by the police, saying there was no justification for tear gas.

Ssenyonyi stated that their purpose in Lubigi was to find out the truth and provide advice to the affected people.

He accused the government of using selective approach in demolishing homes and properties of residents.

"Demolishing long-standing homes of less privileged while sparing industrial sites like Buganda Kombucha and the Stabex fuel station erected in the same place is selective," Ssenyonyi said.

MPs Betty Ethel Naluyima and Musoke Wakaima said the government should take the Lubigi issue seriously and warned of potential consequences for the displaced people who have now become homeless.

Local leaders, especially from areas where homes were demolished, condemned the government for evicting people without informing the local leaders.

Two weeks later, the displaced people are still facing challenges, with a 68-year-old woman, Ruth Namuddu, saying she has nowhere to stay.

"Those who sold me this land died long time ago, a man named "Muligi" was a resident here and owned good acres of land," said Namuddu, whose pitiable pictures went viral on social media at the weekend.

Ms Namuddu was pictured looking forlorn at the rubbles with a chicken in hand as her last possession.

"NEMA and KCCA just came, demolished us without warning, we ask for help, let government help us. We are not of NEMA, we are of Nansana," she said.

"Lubigi is far away from our homes and when we came here all this was coffee plantation. If they knew we were going to be evicted, they (Buganda land board) wouldn't take Busuulu."

NEMA continues to intensify evictions of people encroaching on wetlands as the country strives to protect these specific ecosystems and reduce the devastating effects of climate change.

With the environment protection force (EPF) poised to start demolishing structures built in wetlands countrywide, monitor wetlands and investigating and curbing environmental crimes.

As debris from the shattered buildings lay scattered, so is hope for the evictees.

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