In Summary
  • The issue: Sand mining on L. Victoria.
  • Our view: It is important that we all realise that natural resources are held in trust and must be preserved for future generations. There is no life and death reason that should make us tamper with the ecology of Lake Victoria at this point in time.

Lake Victoria – At least the Ugandan portion of the lake – is under renewed threat from individuals determined to take out the one resource that could irredeemably alter the ecology of Africa’s largest and world’s second largest fresh water body.

The object of their attention is sand, and it is easy to understand why. Sand is the third most used item on earth after air and water in that order. Its importance has grown over the years, fuelled by the construction boom where it is the key element as it is mixed with cement, water and gravel to produce concrete or mortar for building structures.

In Uganda, sand has traditionally been mined from swamps, lake shores and river basins. Now the sand merchants from China have arrived in the country and they want the sand dredged from the bottom of the lake. They have marshalled political and military power to support their environmentally questionable scheme.

Thankfully, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the Wakiso District chairman have stood their ground and refused to license the “investors” that claim their only intention is to build water ways, ports and ships on Lake Victoria.

Dredging of the lake will not only disrupt fish breeding sites and, therefore, undermine efforts to restock the lake, it will also potentially disrupt some of the islands and shores with unknown consequences on livelihoods an the economy. This is not desirable in whatever name it is clothed.

Unfortunately, several politicians and military officers with big name recognition have lined up to support the project for very lame reasons. They should be exposed and shamed for their attempts to sanitise this project. The same people have showed no interest in getting the rotting MV Pamba and MV Kaawa are rotting at Port Bell. Their pronouncements cannot therefore be altruistic.

It is important that we all realise that natural resources are held in trust and must be preserved for future generations. There is no life and death reason that should make us tamper with the ecology of Lake Victoria at this point in time. And no money is worth the destruction we could potentially visit upon ourselves by destroying the lake.

Environmentalists and the public therefore need to rally the support of Nema and the Wakiso chairman who have so far stood their ground to reject the scheme. Together we can!

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