By Christopher Ahimbisibwe, Orumuri/NECJOGHA and Sheila Nakabuye NBS TV/NECJOGHA
Mbarara, Uganda –River Rwizi which is the source of livelihood in 10 districts of western Uganda is choking on sewerage, garbage and effluent released from factories.
According to a study carried out by Mbarara district, it was discovered that many commercial buildings including hotels, shopping malls, rentals don’t have sewerage lines.
“Many buildings in Mbarara which are constructed don’t have sewerage lines, instead what they call sewerage pipes connect straight to River Rwizi and others use water drainage channels to pour their sewerage into River Rwizi,” Jolly Kagira the secretary for works Mbarara district explains.
With the degradation of River Rwizi being a major concern, two climate reporters attached to NECJOGHA decided to make their own investigations to discover who are the culprits in releasing sewerage and effluent into River Rwizi.
In Kamukuzi Division they found that many hotels, shops and rentals which are built in the Rwebikona surburb of Mbarara including Rwizi Arch Hotel, Lake View Hotel, Ankole Institute for business and vocational studies, do not have sewerage lines and use the drainage channels which are supposed to take rainy water to dump sewerage into the river.
In Kakoba and Nyamitanga divisions which have many commercial buildings including big institutions most buildings also don’t have sewerage lines. They were shocked to find out that out of ten buildings built along Bananuka Drive and Buremba Road, only three of them have proper sewerage lines but others use drainage channels to pour their sewerage into River Rwizi.
At Bananuka Drive we found sewerage flowing out from different hotels and bars like; Pelican hotel, Sabs Hotel and Bar, Nicoz Lounge, Romax Hotel, International Window School, Kash Hotel, Western Arcade, Vision Empire and commercial buildings like Mbarara City Mall.
This sewerage from those building was found to be connected to drainage channels that go down to Kiswahili town and connect to other drainage channels that also bring sewerage from school buildings namely Kabateraine Memorial School, Mbarara Municipal School, Mbarara Community Institute and others. The drainage channel which was supposed to take rain water from town turned into sewerage line which ends into River Rwizi behind the Mbarara central prison.
Some factories in Mbarara town have also been accused of releasing effluent from their processes into the river. Some of these are Kazire Health Products which manufactures herbal medicines and Tip Top which makes bread.
However, Dickson Musasizi, the Production Manager of Kazire says they release effluents to the river to taste the quality of their water on the water hyacinth.
“If our water was dangerous the water hyacinth would die but the fact the weed doesn’t die means our water is safe,” Musasizi says.
Sserunkuma Muzapharu who owns Koyinawo waste management company attributed what is being done to River Rwizi to poor planning of the town.
“They are some rich people who are more powerful than the leaders. But it’s surprising and shameful that these people who have money and can afford proper sewerage lines just dump their sewerage in River Rwizi,” he said.
The Mayor of Mbarara, Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi admitted that many buildings in town don’t have proper sewerage lines but since the municipality has now been upgraded to city status they will work with Police and local residents to fight the degradation of River Rwizi.
Richard Musota, the Principal Water Officer in Ministry of Water and Environment said there is no one who is releasing effluent into the river who has not been sensitized.
“I don’t think that there is anyone who is not aware of the law that requires them to manage their effluent,” Musota said.
He appealed to residents of the areas near River Rwizi to report to them in time so as to take action as they are not always in the field every time.
River Rwizi which covers approximately 8200 km is the source of water for both human use and animals in the 10 districts of Rakai, Lyantonde, Isingiro, Lwengo, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Sheema and Rubirizi.