MASAKA – Richard Kimera -the National Resistance Movement-NRM chairperson for Bukakata sub County in Masaka district is on the spot for frustrating environmental conservation campaigns in the area.
He is accused of cultivating huge chucks of protected wetlands and a natural forest in Makonzi parish, Bukakata sub County, which he has since replaced with seasonal crops and plantations.
Aloysius Jjuuko -the Bukakata sub county chairperson blamed the NRM boss for the massive destruction of a permanent wetland that stretches between Kisasa, Kaziru and Kitiko villages in Bukakata sub-county – adjacent to the Lake Victoria shorelines.
According to Jjuuko, despite the local government’s operations to stop people from destroying wetlands, Kimera has highhandedly continued to deplete the environment to set up pineapple, coffee, and banana plantations. Kimera is also accused of using his office to compromise and intimidate the local authorities that attempt to challenge his destructive operations in the wetlands.
Consequently, Jjuuko argued that Kimera’s conduct is directly frustrating the local government’s efforts to restore and conserve the environment because the community is also using it as a reason to resist evictions from the protected areas.
However, Kimera said those accusing him are detractors who were only interested in failing his development projects.
He alleged that the said plantations were only leased to him by the initial cultivators, adding that he was in the process of securing permission and guidance from the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA to continue utilising the wetland for developmental projects.
Masaka District Environment Officer, Rose Nakyejjwe said her office was considering prosecution of people who are encroaching on the wetlands and forests with impunity. She explained that some prominent figures were taking advantage of the minimal human resource capacity at the district’s Natural Resources Department, to encroach on wetlands and forests.
As a remedy, she said that they had asked all lower local council leadership to report any encroachments in their respective areas of jurisdiction, such that the defaulters could be prosecuted accordingly.