KAMPALA – Ministry of Water and Environment officials have advised government to consider relocating Kilembe Mines Hospital, whose structures were destroyed after River Nyamwamba burst its banks in 2022.
The hospital has since become a centre of conflict, with locals staging demonstrations demanding government to construct a new one.
Eng. Joseph Oriono Eyatu, representing the Permanent Secretary, said that the location of Kilembe mines and the dilapidated hospital is risky and could be run down again by any future floods.
“As people of environment, we do not advise any one to settle in wetlands, flat plains or river banks. The hospital is located in a flat plain and River Nyamwamba has flooded more than once,” said Eyatu – the Commissioner for Rural Water.
He added: “We cannot guarantee that there will be no floods, even if you move the hospital to the upper area of Kilembe, Kasese soils are loose.”
Eyatu and his team appeared before the Committee on Health chaired by Joel Ssebikaali – the deputy chairperson on Wednesday.
He said reconstruction of a hospital in Kilembe would require commitment from government to routinely desilt the river and to shift households far away.
He said that although his ministry does not receive funds for emergencies and disasters, they have mobilised over Ugx30b from the World Bank to desilt 5.4 kilometres out of the 25 kilometres of River Nyamwamba.
The World Bank funding also caters for tree planting along the river banks and provision of agricultural inputs to affected households.
Legislators urged the ministry to mobilise more funds and cover a bigger stretch of River Nyamwamba which is said to be wild when it floods.
“This is a matter that concerns government. Why should we only work on five kilometres? Let us push so that you address the problem from the source, not only the small place,” said Margaret Ayebare – the Mbarara district Woman MP.
The Kasese Municipality MP, Ferigo Kambale asked the ministry to use the existing funds to purchase a caterpillar to ensure continuity of river maintenance.
“I heard you are spending Ugx13b on tree planting and providing alternative livelihood. Can you spare some money and buy a caterpillar that would be permanent in Kilembe?” asked Kambale.
Bukomansimbi district Woman MP, Veronica Nanyondo was concerned that the recently constructed walls of the river bank are too short and weak to contain the heavy floods as observed in 2022.
“If what happened last time reoccurs, I do not think the walls I saw can contain the heavy flow with those rocks,” said Nanyondo.