blames Environmental Ministry for neglect
By Simon Wokorach
Gulu-UGANDA: The Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development has moved to cancel 7000 of land titles established in wetland areas for the restoration of wetlands in the country.
Sylvano Afai, the Wetlands Coordinator for Northern Uganda in the Ministry of Water and Environment has disclosed on Monday in Gulu Municipal Council at Layibi Division headquarters.
He was in a planning meeting with the local leaders in Layibi Division to adopt strategy for restoration of wetlands in the Division which have been reportedly widely destroyed.
He revealed that 7000 of land titles mostly in Kampala and Masaka will be revoked adding that the process has started in Kampala which has affected several buildings.
He further disclosed that a number of buildings in Gulu on wetland areas have been issued warning which will see such buildings brought down in a period of 21 days according to the Environmental Act.
However, he blamed the Uganda Land Commissions for issuing out land titles to people without proper verification.
Benson Ocan, the Police Environmental Officer for Gulu Region noted that the process of issuing out land title is decentralized and blamed the area councilor ones for issuing out document of land sale agreement on wetlands.
“As police, we can’t effect enforcement of environment Act when the local government still issues out certificates on wetland, what can we do? Benson Ocan.
Ocan however wants local councilors be prosecuted for transecting business in wetland areas if the country is to get rid of more land titles coming out in wetland areas.
Angela Ker Latigo, the Local Councilor III for Techo Parish in Layibi Division has however urged the officials from the National Environmental Management Authority to carry out more sensitization to the locals on wetland preservation and protection.
Latigo claims that besides buildings on the wetlands, there are vulnerable people whose livelihoods are dependent on small farming on wetlands which should be taken care of.
“Some of them are people with no identity and wetland is there only mean of livelihoods, it very unfortunate when government threatens to persecute them than finding solution for their problems” Latigo explains.
Michael Ocan Christopher, the Environmental Officer for Gulu Municipal Council has named some of the activities on wetland areas in Gulu as farming, bricks’ laying, house construction and more so building of the toilets along the stream which he says is not affecting nature alone but human health.
He has however revealed that identification of buildings on wetlands in Gulu Municipal Council will start off tomorrow using geographical information saying it is a new technology acquired to help in wetland conservation and protection.
“We have acquired new technology called geographical information system to identify wetland areas and you will see us soon coming to map out all buildings on wetlands for demolition” Ocan threatens.