The construction of an artemether processing plant in Rubanda district has suffered a setback.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has stopped the works accusing Savan Nayankumar, the proprietor of VISPA Botanicals Limited of setting up the plant in a wetland.
Last month, Nayankumar started clearing about two acres of land along Kabale-Kisoro road near Bubare trading centre in Bubaare sub-county to establish his plant.
He went ahead and erected a fence and started draining the area.
His action outraged environmental activists who accused district authorities of turning a deaf ear about an investor starting a factory in a wetland.
On Tuesday, NEMA intervened and stopped the construction works.
A March 7th, 2022 letter signed by Barirega Akankwasah, the Executive Director of NEMA accuses Nayankumar of draining a wetland to establish a factory without approval from NEMA contrary to section 157 of National Environment Act No.5 of 2019.
He noted that Nayankumar is establishing a factory in an area within a fragile ecosystem (wetland) that should be protected from degradation in compliance with regulation 17 of the National Environment (wetlands, riverbanks, and lakeshores management) regulation, S.I.no.153-5.
He also says that the site lies along the tributary that drains into river Kiruruma, a tributary to River Kagyera.
Akankwasah directs Nayankumar to stop all the works with immediate effect and restore the already damaged site back to its original state.
Pierre Mbabazi, the Deputy Speaker of Rubanda district has welcomed NEMA’s directive, saying that the contractors had compromised some of the district officials to look the other way.
He wonders why the investor rushed to degrade the wetland yet the government has started evicting all locals who have been using it for cultivation.
Simon Byamukama, the Executive Director of Let Us Save Uganda (LUSU) Development Initiative, a community-based organization advocating for environmental protection has also thrown his weight behind NEMA, saying that the investor should have followed the necessary procedures to avoid adverse effects to the ecosystem.
Pamela Katushabe, the Rubanda District Environment Officer, says that the investor didn’t go through the district before embarking on the project.
Nayankumar has not yet commented as he could neither pick nor return calls from our reporter.