HOW GOLD & SAND MINERS ARE DEGRADING THE ENVIRONEMNT IN ANKOLE

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Residents, leaders and environmental/climate activists in the districts of Buhweju, Sheema and Rwampara in Ankole sub-region western Uganda have expressed concerns over the escalating environmental degradation by gold and sand miners.

The residents say the sector is causing more harm than good and frustrating environmental/climate conservation interventions.

Sheema and Rwampara are full of sand deposits, while Buhweju is blessed with gold deposits. Largely, sand deposits exist in areas of Ngoma in Sheema, Rugando, Kinoni and Nyeihanga in Rwampara district though local communities have not properly benefited from these activities. Wetlands surrounding River Rwizi have been encroached on by miners thus greatly affected the water quality and volume.

National Water & Sewerage Corporation-NWSC using sacks of sand to raise River Rwizi water levels.

According to Hon. Julius Tusiime Karuhanga who is the Rwampara East legislator, it was found out that where there are supposed to have artisanal mining of sand, businessmen come in and they are trying to mine this sand using excavators. They are devoid of any environmental understanding. There is a lot of environmental degradation. Hon Karuhanga on Tuesday, September 27,2022 led a team of the district’s top leadership for physical verification of the impact of sand mining following concerns that were raised by the community.

Hon Julius Karuhanga on Tuesday, September 27,2022 led a team of the district’s top leadership for physical verification of the impact of sand mining following concerns that were raised by the community.

Sand mining activities in the area have also destroyed the local access roads making them impassable since heavy sinotruk trucks have broken down all the culverts. Mining companies, most of which with no licenses, are getting sand without backfilling the pits where sand is mined leaving communities at risk of related challenges like accidents.

In Sheema District, sand mining activities in Ngoma and Kihunda which are River Rwizi catchment areas have attracted mixed reactions from residents who want authorities to enforce operations and ensure environment-friendly act.  Prof Meshack Katusiimeh from Ngoma stressed that sand mining entrepreneurs are utilizing the reserves of sand and exploiting a largely unregulated sector due to lack of proper coordination .

In Buhweju District, gold mining has been ongoing since the 1950s leaving the environment hurt especially areas of Kibimba, Bitsya, Bihanga, Bushozi, Nyakishana and others.

The area Resident District Commissioner-RDC Nicolas Nuwagira says gold mining has left more harm because it is taking place in wetlands and causing an impact on the entire ecosystem and the surrounding community whose water sources have been contaminated.

Lauben Tindiwabo hailing from Nyakishana Sub County has been in artisanal mining for 20 years, and says as miners are aware of environmental concerns and they are trying to conserve environment but they are hindered by many challenges and most look at money first. He added that sometimes they are not bothered by the impact until the government comes in to force them out.

Stakeholders want authorities to ensure strict enforcement of laws and sensitization to conserve the environment/climate.

 

 

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