President Museveni Declares War on Wetland Encroachers, Orders Immediate Evacuation

KAMPALA – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is poised to issue an executive order mandating the immediate evacuation of all individuals encroaching on swamps and riverbanks.

The directive, emphasized by the President during his recent live broadcast on Independence Day, applies from the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to parish chiefs, with strict instructions for its unwavering implementation.

President Museveni asserted that no cultivation should take place in swamps or riverbanks. Moreover, those with residences in proximity to these areas are required to dismantle their structures without delay. Addressing the nation last night, he emphasized the gravity of encroachment on wetlands and insisted that such occupants must leave unconditionally, acknowledging their awareness that their actions were in error.

The President specifically highlighted instances of wetland encroachment in Busoga, Bukedi, and Kigezi, attributing the misguidance of residents to government initiatives, such as the Kibimba Rice Scheme. To address this, he proposed the reorientation of wetland encroachers in Bukedi-Busoga and Kigezi, facilitating a transition from wetland rice cultivation to either irrigated non-wetland farming or fish farming at the peripheries of the wetlands, thereby allowing these areas to naturally regenerate.

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President Museveni also outlined strict measures for the conservation of water bodies. He insisted that a buffer zone of two hundred meters from the lake shore and a hundred meters from riverbanks should be left untouched to regenerate as either forest or waterline shrubbery. Existing factories built within former wetlands will be allowed to remain, but no new ones will be permitted. Even those erroneously licensed by the UIA, but yet to commence construction, are expected to be allocated alternative land.

Addressing environmental concerns, the President noted that organized residential houses and hotels near lakeshores or riverbanks might be permitted, provided they adhere to environmental guidelines, such as planting grass and trees to prevent soil erosion that could affect water bodies.

However, he stressed that there should be a complete prohibition of cultivation and the creation of slums near these vital water sources, with an insistence on the demolition of residential structures built in wetlands.

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President Museveni concluded by highlighting the critical importance of water, not just for sustaining life and generating food, but also for the production of hydroelectricity. His firm stance reflects a commitment to safeguarding Uganda’s natural resources and ensuring sustainable environmental practices for future generations.

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