Environmentalists pin UNRA over degradation of the environment
By Chris Mugasha
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and its Construction companies have been accused for contributing towards the degradation of the environment through its multi-billion projects especially roads.
According to district environment officers, UNRA has failed to adhere to environmental and social management plans leaving some natural resources seriously degraded.
A case in point is the recently completed Kashenyi-Mitooma road project where some wetlands, valleys and streams are now suffering siltation as a result of the poor implementation of the environmental management plan by UNRA and CICO International Ltd, a Chinese constructing company that implemented the project.
The siltation of the wetlands, valleys and streams is a result of hilly areas which were cut to pave way for the road and also allow excavation of murram.
Environmentally, these hills were supposed to be cut in steps or slope wise to reduce both speed and amount of water so that later there are no landslides to cause siltation and other destructions. In some areas, the contractor was supposed to do stone pitching to reduce on the speed of water flow. In trenches, they should have put score points to also reduce on speed of water flow and to filter sold material to prevent siltation in valleys and wetlands. But unfortunately most of these mitigative measures were not put in place.
The Mitooma district environmental officer Naboth Baguma said some of these issues of environmental degradation were submitted to UNRA’s Mbarara Regional office but no response has been made to rectify the damages.
He cites areas like the stream at Buhambo market which has been affected by siltation as result of soil that was dumped in the neighborhood by the contractor and later, the floods.
According to Vicent Katate the Bushenyi district environment officer, on such areas UNRA should plan to plant there grass.
Katate says, “At the beginning of such mega projects there are management plans which clearly spells out the different roles of various stakeholders but unfortunately UNRA team and contractors bypass us instead of involving us.”
Allan Sempebwa the UNRA deputy manager media relations pledged to follow up the matter stressing that, “it is our responsibility that our contractors comply.” He also explained that among the principles of UNRA is to make sure that issues of environment are well managed.
Such areas require restoration which is not done by UNRA sometimes.
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