By John Okello Lapok
Environmentalists have petitioned the Ministry for Energy and Mineral Development calling for a halt in the ongoing efforts by Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL) to construct a power line in Lake Victoria.
In a letter dated September 9 addressed to the state minister for energy, a whistle blower suggests that the line that is being constructed is a danger to the water body and environment in general. The petitioner faults the ministry for sleeping on job yet it is it’s duty to safeguard the environment as stipulated under the law.
“Being part of the executive, it’s your responsibility as a minister to uphold the law. The water within which UETCL has put this line is a resource protected by Ugandans. The pylons which have been placed in water are a danger to this water” the petition reads in part.
In regards to UETCL, the petition claims that the entity has contravened Article 245 of the constitution which vests all wetlands, water bodies in the hands of government and local government which hold them in public interest. He says failure by UETCL to utilize land according to the law leads to environmental degradation whose consequences are immense for the population to bear them.
“It is not permissible to degrade water or wetland and cause pollution to the citizens. We’re concerned by the great danger this line is likely to occasion on the environment and subsequently to the citizens of Uganda also cognizant of the fact that the affected water body is a regional and international resource” it reads.
The petitioners have warned that unless the project is reversed, they are moving to write to donors to block the funding.
“Unless it is diverted from water to land, we’re prepared to block the funding for this project to stop. We can’t sit down to allow funders inject their money in a project intended to affect the environment” the petition which also blames NEMA threatens.
This threat comes after people trading as environmentalists caused government to lose out on its plans to set up the oil and gas pipeline. The EU parliament last week issued a resolution ordering Uganda to stay its plans to construct an oil and gas pipeline citing what they called human rights violations and breach of the environment.
According to pictures we obtained, trucks are seen filling wetlands and parts of lake Victoria in Namanve in a scramble for plots of land.