By: ANDREW KAGGWA, NECJOGHA
KAMPALA, UGANDA: The State Minister for Kampala City, Hon. Benny Namugwanya has named companies she said had constructed building in wetlands and over drainage reserves causing flooding in the city when it rains.
In a statement to Parliament Namugwanya named Mukwano Industries owned by industrialist Amiral Karmali widely known as Mukwano and Meera Investments owned by tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia and Mandela Millers one of the Mandela Group of Companies owned by Omar Ahmed Mandela which also include City Oil and Café Javas, as some of those that had constructed building in wetlands.
Among the most prone areas according to the Minister are: Kiyanja-Lumas, Nakamiro and Kawaala that all go through Bwaise.
Others are Kyambogo-Banda, Nalukolongo, Nateete, Clock Tower and Bandali-Luthuli rise in Bugoloobi.
Concerning the Kyambogo-Banda area, the minister urged authorities to fast-track the process of cancelling all land titles in wetlands.
Among those listed include one in the names of Meera Investments granted in 2010/11. Meera investments backfilled 75% of Kinawataka swamp which is a discharge area of the channel.
“Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) has resolved to construct four new box culvert crossings (on Jinja Road) at Kyambogo and Banda areas under Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Projects (KIIDP),” Namugwanya explained the KCCA plans to manage floods.
Construction is expected to commence around February 2020.
Mandela Millers Limited is also accused of backfilling Busega swamp upon clearance by NEMA. Fears are rife that further back filling shall exacerbate the flooding problem in Nalukolongo, and Nateete areas.
Village Mall and Shell Bugolobi are were also constructed on the original drainage channel.
Another company behind this debacle is Mukwano Industries which is blamed for blocking drainage channels that flow from the Katwe (Kinyoro) community drain, Nsambya Barracks and Kibuli areas.
However Members of Parliament decried what they regard as laxity in KCCA approach towards managing the torrential floods in Kampala.
This was in response to a statement presented to Parliament on Tuesday, 18 June 2019 by the State Minister for Kampala City, Benny Namugwanya, on KCCA’s plans for controlling floods.
The MPs blamed the problem of flooding on the incompetence of KCCA, citing their failure to implement development projects in the city and corruption.
Hon. Betty Nambooze (DP, Mukono Municipality) and also Shadow Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority added that Kampala has become a battle ground of antagonistic politics at the expense of service delivery.
“Kampala leadership has failed to internalise the law constituting them. We gave them a Kampala Metropolitan Physical Planning Unit for them to effectively plan and organise this city,” she said.
Nambooze added that the Kampala Metropolitan Police should be instructed not to be selective in clamping down on people breaking the laws so that if they have to evacuate people from wetlands, no one is left behind.
She said that KCCA was given a grant to rectify the issue of drainage but they have failed.
“KCCA got money in form of a US$200 million grant to implement the Kampala Drainage Master Plan. However, it is going to expire in December before it is implemented,” she noted, adding that all this would go a long way to solve the problems of flooding.
Hon. Richard Gafabusa Muhumuza (NRM, Bwamba County) said people have been given permission to build in wetlands and thus obstructing water catchment areas.
“The ecological purpose of swamps and wetlands has been undermined and because of corrupt officials, people have plans that have been approved by KCCA,” he said.
Hon. Gordon Arinda Kakuma (NRM, Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality) further criticised the Minister for lamenting over floods without giving any real solutions.
“We need to see action from KCCA instead of the Ministers of Kampala lamenting about the causes of flooding. There are laws to stop people from building in wetlands, poor disposal of waste and KCCA has been provided funds to improve the drainage of the city,” he added.
Hon. Fred Mwesigye (NRM, Nyabushozi County) said that citizens are to blame to a certain extent because of their actions in waste disposal.
“There is gross indiscipline with people violating rules and dumping carelessly; other people have built in wetlands; there is a lot of pollution of Lake Victoria; and the city needs to be decongested by building satellite cities,” Mwesigye added.
He noted that all these issues need to be addressed by the government through the responsible government agencies.
Minister Namugwanya responded saying her statement was meant to inform Parliament about some of the challenges faced in trying to control floods in the country.
“Despite receiving funds from development partners to overhaul the drainage of Kampala, the government had failed to meet its part of the funding obligations,” Namugwanya explained.