Saturday, March 11, 2017

Illegal #Chinese sand miners say protected by senior #Uganda govt people

Parliament has summoned Chinese sand miners to appear before the natural resources parliamentary committee next week amid increased concerns of unpredictable weather patterns and environmental degradation.

The chairperson parliamentary committee on natural resources Alex Byarugaba summoned all the Chinese working with Only for You International Ltd following physical altercations between the miners and Wakiso district chairperson Matia Lwanga Bwanika last week.

Bwanika, with other district officials attempted to arrest the miners for illegally excavating sand from the Lake Victoria at Nangombe landing site in Kasanje sub-county last week. The Chinese attempted to physically assault the chairman, telling him they had been cleared by 'authorities' in government and State House to excavate sand in the area.

The MPs on natural resources committee with district environment authorities at the sand mining site

“We have summoned all Chinese and the owners of the land, George William Mulo because we need to know all the people involved in this deal from the top officials who told the Kasanje residents they work with State House. The same people told the Kasanje residents that the sand was used to build the Entebbe international airport but we expect these people to appear in Parliament next week” said Byaruhanga during a field visit on Thursday.

Byarugaba was accompanied by committee members including MPs Kefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga), Aja Baryayanga (Kabale municipality), Herbert Ariko (Soroti municipality) and Geoffrey Dhamuzungu (Budiope East).

Byaruhanga also ordered for the arrest of Patrick Muwanguzi, one of the drivers who operate the graders at the sand mining site in Nangombe. He said the reason why they arrested him is because he failed to hand over the keys for the graders which they wanted to park at Kasanje’s police for security purposes until the Chinese appear before Parliament next week.

“This man has keys for these graders but he has failed to hand them over to us and we have arrested him but we’re taking him with us up to Parliament because the Wakiso district chairman Matia Lwanga Bwanika told us how DPC Entebbe police Division has released the rest of the suspects. Now let’s go with this one and he will help us find the rightful owners of this illegal business” he added.

Natural resources committee chairperson Alex Byarugaba (R) helps Police arrest the driver Patrick Muwanguzi

He also said the Parliament is also going to investigate the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) officials who have been visiting the site without arresting the Chinese.

“People on the ground have told us that NEMA officials have been coming here but they have been ‘eating’ the Chinese’s money and this has stopped them from arresting them. However, for us we shall arrest them and we need also to look at their working permits because I don’t think these people were accepted by our government to operate in Uganda” he added.

The district environment officer, Mpoza Esau told the MPs that he had earlier issued the Chinese with the warnings and stopped them from excavating sand from the lake, but they adamantly continued with their illegal activity.

“Their act of continuing excavating sand illegally from the lake forced me with the district chairman and other district officials to visit the site and take action on these people which we did and that’s why they have even abandoned the site which has helped us to save our environment and very soon it will be restored“ said Mpoza.

The MPs also visited the Kasanje police station and the OC station Amir Magulu said the miners are well protected by some ‘powerful people’ in government.

“You Hon. Byarugaba I am still new in this position, and I have nothing to do for you, unless when you call my supervisor DPC Entebbe division. But I can’t do anything because we also receive calls intimidating us and we can’t even tell who these people are” he told MPs.

Meanwhile, Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) chairperson George Mutabaazi has hailed Bwanika for his fight against the illegal sand mining, saying that the illegal sand mining is not only in Wakiso but is also happening in his district (Lwengo) and even Masaka.

“You have been saying the opposition is fighting the government but some of the opposition leaders like Bwanika are doing good things...that’s why we have suggested as district chairmen to join Bwanika and fight these sand miners from Wakiso, Masaka , Lwengo and other areas to protect the country’s environment" said Mutabaazi.
Chinese sand miners protected by 'big people'- Wakiso police

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