Legislators have called on the law enforcement authorities to consider arresting officers in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development who issue land titles in wetlands.
MPs who sit on the Committee on Climate Change said this will quicken the process of reclaiming wetlands that are currently illegally occupied.
“I think we should not go for only those who built in wetlands – we have to go for those who have issued titles in wetlands. Whoever issues documentation to facilitate land acquisition in wetlands must be fired,” said Hon. Seth Wambede, (NRM, Northern Division, Mbale City).
This was during a press briefing held on Friday, 09 September 2022 in the Members’ Lounge at Parliament.
Members observed that the process of evicting illegal occupants has been compromised that the ‘big fish’ continue to occupy wetlands, thus the need to focus on the source of land titles.
“We see eviction of vulnerable people. Why is it selective implementation of the law?” asked Hon. Christine Kaaya (NUP, Kiboga District woman MP)
Kaaya wondered if government was monitoring the authorised projects in wetlands such as Lwera in Lukaaya Town Council in Kalungu district, central Uganda, to ensure adherence to environment law.
“Earlier there was a move to cancel all titles in wetlands. How far have we gone with fulfilling this? How far have we gone with their demarcation? Where is Environmental Police to monitor adherence to what we set out to do with these wetlands?” she asked.
The committee chairperson, Hon. Lawrence Songa said: “First of all, it is bad to issue title in the wetland. I have seen people who say that they have land and when you go to see the land, it is in water – but they say, ‘My land is under there, it is the water which came over it’ ”.
Songa said the rampant floods in Kasese district, western Uganda and landslides in the Elgon region, eastern Uganda should be a lesson that there is need to reclaim wetlands and other green cover such as forests.
He was concerned that government was spending heavily on managing disasters, saying it could spend less if it focused on disaster prevention.
“Most of the time what we are spending on at the Office of the Prime Minister is for addressing challenges after disasters. If you calculate the money we spend on relief items after disasters, it is higher than the money we will have used to prevent it,” he said.
Legislators also urged government to consider a comprehensive campaign to encourage households embrace climate change best practices such as, tree planting, protection of forests and wetlands from encroachers.
“We want climate change actions such as the use and disposal of [polythene bags] kaveera to be owned at house hold level. We need to own this fight Invidually like how we fought COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS,” said Hon. Anthony Esenu (NRM, Kapelebyong County).
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