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NEMA arrests seven Chinese over illegal sand mining in Lwera

NEMA arrests seven for illegal sand mining in Lwera wetland, Kalungu district.

Posted on July 10, 2024

KAMPALA, UGANDA – In a bold move to protect Uganda’s fragile ecosystems, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has launched a operation against illegal sand miners in Lwera Wetland, located in Kalungu District. The operation, which began on the night of July 9, 2024, along the Kampala-Masaka Road, resulted in the arrest of seven foreign nationals and the impoundment of 13 sinotruk lorries and four excavators, among other equipment.

This latest crackdown comes after NEMA halted all illegal sand mining activities in Lwera in April this year, and tasked the miners to restore the degraded parts of the wetland. The restoration exercise is part of NEMA’s ongoing efforts to liberate Uganda’s wetlands and other fragile ecosystems from environmental degradation.

According to NEMA, wetland degradation is a serious crime under Section 55 of the National Environment Act, Cap 181, and is punishable with a fine not exceeding UGX 600 million or imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or both.

The seven arrested foreign nationals are expected to be charged in accordance with the law, following the conclusion of investigations into the matter.

NEMA’s operation in Lwera Wetland is part of a larger campaign to protect Uganda’s environment and natural resources. The Authority has vowed to continue carrying out similar operations across the country to ensure that those who degrade the environment are held accountable.

The move has been praised by environmentalists and conservationists, who have long called for tougher action against illegal sand mining and wetland degradation.

Lwera Wetland, located in Kalungu District, is one of Uganda’s most fragile ecosystems, and is home to a variety of plant and animal species. The wetland plays a crucial role in regulating the water cycle, preventing floods and droughts, and supporting agriculture and fisheries in the surrounding areas.

The illegal sand mining activities in Lwera have been blamed for causing significant environmental damage, including the degradation of the wetland, destruction of habitats, and disruption of the water cycle.


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