Environmental experts in Kasese district are warning of more floods if sand mining on the banks of River Nyamwamba doesn’t stop.
Sand is mined on a stretch of land from Nyakasanga to Kanyangaya parishes in Nyamwamba, which is five kilometres from the river.
In a report produced by the Kasese district natural resources department, most of the sand that is used for construction work in Kasese town is being mined from the banks of the river which has forced the river to change its course.
In May, floods ravaged the district leaving six people dead and property worth billions of shillings destroyed.
Evelyn Mugume, the Kasese district environment officer, says illegal sand mining near the river has diverse effects on the surrounding surface and ground water. Mugume also says the bridge that connects Nyakasanga Ward to Rukooki along the Kasese- Fort Portal highway is also on the risk of collapsing, since it has been weakened by the people who are mining sand under it.
Mugume says the district has started massive sensitization of the population in Kasese Municipality through radio programmes, community dialogues and seminars, about the effects of mining on the banks of the river.
Seliveriyo Mukobi, the Kasese municipal council environment officer, says they have on several occasions warned people to stop illegal mining, but all in vain. He says mining is done at night because the miners fear to be arrested by law enforcement officers.
But Joseph Mwesige, 35, says he can’t stop sand mining because it’s his only source of income. He says that he earns between 40,000 to 60,000 shillings every day.
In June, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) carried out a survey which indicated that River Nyamwamba is also facing the risk of drying up if district authorizes don’t come up with measures of controlling the increasing human activities being carried along the river banks.
The report suggests that trees should be planted along the banks and sand mining should be carried out 300 meters away from the river bed.
In August, Kasese municipal council passed a resolution to evict all the sand miners along the river banks, but the resolution has never been implemented.