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UPDF Officer Accused of Destroying Masaka Wetland

Part of the Nabajuzi Swamp in Masaka City that is under threat as a developer dumps soil in it

The Masaka City Town Clerk and the City Physical Planner are on the spot over the destruction of a major wetland in the city.

A Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) Officer only identified as Major Mugume is currently dumping heaps of soil in part of Nabajuzi wetland, along the Masaka-Mbarara bypass, despite protests by local leaders and environmental activists.

The affected wetland, part of which is being degraded serves as the main water catchment area for Masaka district’s main water source, which directly drains from the wetland’s streams.

The developer who is now intending to put up a commercial building, according to Florence Namayanja, the Masaka City Mayor conspired with some technical officers in the area to irregularly permit him to utilize the wetland in a manner that is destructive to the ecosystem.

Namayanja indicates that some unscrupulous people took advantage of the transition period when Masaka was elevated to City status and connived with some technical persons to irregularly acquire properties in town including gazetted open spaces.

Masaka City Woman MP and Mathias Mpuuga, the Nyendo-Mukungwe Division MP also Leader of the Opposition Monday visited the contested construction site.

Mpuuga blamed the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) for allowing the developer to remove the road guardrails to allow him to access the swamp with dump trucks.

The leaders have tasked the Masaka City Principal Engineer, Augustine Turibalungi to formally overturn all the ongoing activities with immediate effect. 

Major Mugume could not be reached for a comment, but one of his agents who only identified himself as Patrick claims that they obtained authorization from the local authorities after procuring the plot from the initial owners.

He also showed URN reporter a letter by the former Masaka Municipality Engineer, John Bahengana clearing the disputed works.

Antonio Kalyango, the Executive Director of Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (BCF), a local environmental conservation civil society says that tampering with Nabajuzi wetland and its water flow may lead to adverse effects on the entire ecosystem of Masaka and the neighbouring district. 

 He threatens that they may be prompted to mobilize for protests should the concerned authorities fail to stop the destruction of the environment.  

 Emmanuel Gakyalo, the Acting Masaka City Clerk when asked about the controversy, said needed time to crosscheck with available records to find out what transpired, however, denying allegations of shielding the developer. 

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