Local leaders, UNRA and contractors inspecting ongoing works at Lwajali wetland
A man who claims ownership of land in a trans-border wetland between Luwero and Mukono districts is threatening the completion of a 15.8 billion shillings drainage improvement project.
Continuum Engineering Limited was contacted by Uganda National Roads Authority to improve the drainage system at a section located 1.9 kilometres within the Lwajali wetland at the border of the Luwero and Mukono districts. The job which started in October 2021 is expected to be completed in January 2023.
UNRA resolved to improve the drainage at the wetland following floods and floating vegetation that paralyzed transport for weeks in 2018. The wetland also hosts a river that passes through to the Sezibwa River.
However as works go on along the drainage, a man identified only as Karangwa armed with a pistol recently attacked the workers on-site and threatened to shoot or burn their graders if they insist on re-aligning the road during construction through his plot which is located in the wetland.
This scared the contractor and notified UNRA which also sought redress from Luwero district authorities to resolve the matter. Deogratius Mwesige Bakole the Site engineer of Continuum Engineering Limited says that during the works, they intend to do rock fill, install box culverts, raise the level and expand the road.
Mwesige explains that during designs, there was a curve on a section of the road and UNRA directed that they re-align it by extending in part of the wetland. He adds that they decided to extend up to 15 meters in the wetland but a man identified only as Karangwa has blocked the move insisting that they must compensate him.
Mwesige says that for now, they have resolved to concentrate on works in the section on Mukono section as they wait for authorities in Luwero and UNRA to handle the complaint. He however warns that if the conflict drags on, the project may delay beyond the stipulated contract period.
Phiona Nalutaaya, an official at UNRA Luwero Station confirmed the complaint and said they have reached out to Luwero district to resolve the matter so that the project is executed within the specified timeframe.
Luwero District Chairperson Erastus Kibirango says that he inspected the disputed piece of land in the wetland and found out that there were some passion fruits planted there. However, he said, that the claimant is not clearly identified to explain how he got land within the wetland.
Kibirango added that no encroacher will be allowed to block a project which seeks to address transport challenges and disastrous floods in future.
URN Couldn’t establish the identities of Karangwa who owns the land since he didn’t fully identify himself to the contractor and the district is yet to interface with him. The drainage improvement project is part of government future plan to upgrade the murram road to tarmac road to ease transport between the districts through Kabimbiri to Zirobwe sub counties.
While speaking at Tarehe Sita on February 6, this year,President Yoweri Museveni reiterated his earlier directives that people growing crops or occupying wetlands should leave.