Police Fire Teargas, Live Bullets to Stop Ssenyonyi from Touring the NEMA Eviction Wreckage in Lubigi

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Police and the army on Monday afternoon fired live bullets and teargas to disperse a gathering at Lubigi swamp in Nansana Municipality, Wakiso district where the National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA) has been evicting residents since May 27, 2024.

Police and the soldiers intervened to disperse the gathering shortly after the arrival of politicians led by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOP) Joel Ssenyonyi.

After addressing residents, Ssenyonyi started touring the wreckage, but Police together with the army moved swiftly to block him and they engaged in an exchange that lasted five minutes, before teargas canisters were thrown to disburse the residents who were protesting Police’s actions of blocking Ssenyonyi from touring the wreckage.

While making his address, Ssenyonyi said; “When you compare what happened at the Anti-Corruption Court and what happened here, we are all concerned. I have been told some of the affected residents have been here for five years, some 10 years, yet there is a gentle man who said he has lived here for 26 years. But you spent all this time and made constructions at the watch of the government!

Yet some of you established businesses within these premises and have been paying taxes. So if the government says these people have occupied these premises illegally, why let them build and stay for this long and collect taxes from businesses established on illegal premises?”

“On my way, I have passed by the same place and there is still a Police station and fuel stations, so if the evictions are going on, why should they discriminate? There are known wetlands in Uganda that are full of factories, these ones aren’t being bothered. Perhaps it is because the owners of these businesses have connections to Government or they are employed in Government. That is why we are asking ourselves, why discriminate among citizens in Uganda?” Ssenyonyi asked.

The Leader of Opposition also revealed that he held a discussion with Barirega Akankwasah, the Executive Director of NEMA and asked him to hold discussions with residents and reach a common ground before such evictions are carried, other than taking eviction decisions in their cool offices without first assessing the situation on ground.

“I even asked him if they had held discussions with you people and I cautioned him that as NEMA, it isn’t good for the officials to sit in their offices and work on remote control. These are Ugandans and the government has been collecting taxes from them, why not go on ground and hold talks with them? You listen to them and they also listen to you so that you have a point of convergence instead of unleashing Police on the locals who ended up destroying people’s property,” he added.

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