Despite President Museveni's many warnings, Chinese simply refuse to leave wetlands

President Yoweri Museveni ordered Chinese nationals growing rice in wetlands to vacate with immediate effect, but the Chinese have ignored him and continued growing rice in wetlands.

Museveni huffs and puffs but the Chinese simply ignore

Museveni was speaking at the closing of the Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment, and Climate Change at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo, Kampala.

This is the fifth time Museveni is ordering rice farmers and factories to stay away from wetlands. His first strident warning to the same was issued in 2019.

Museveni has even ordered the arrest of government officials who give wetlands to private developers, but to date not one arrest has been made and not one land title cancelled.

Here in Uganda we are contributing to the destruction of wetlands. It is our responsibility. It is not the Europeans who are destroying the wetlands; it is us. When we got in touch with the Chinese, they introduced a culture here that our people didn’t know. The culture of growing rice in swamps. I don’t know what swamps they use in Asia but here what they call swamps are tributaries of River Nile. When you grow rice in the swamps, you are committing a big crime. This must stop! I don’t know what the scientists told you but here in Uganda, 60 per cent of the rain is from the oceans and 40 per- cent is from the wetlands...” Museveni said.

Therefore, by interfering with the forests and wetlands in Uganda, we are interfering with the rainfall of this area. The countries in the Great Lakes region should be bold and watch. In Uganda, I am fighting to make sure that nobody cultivates in the wetlands... This is terrible! How can we kill ourselves and commit suicide by attacking the wetlands? The wetlands must be vacated...” he added.

The Chinese nationals in question have a rice farm in the Lwera wetland along the Kampala-Masaka highway at Lukaya. Also, Kehong Uganda Industrial Development Limited has a rice farm in Lubenge wetland in Luweero district.

There are rice farms and several factories in wetlands along the Mukono-Jinja highway like Tian Tang, Abacus Pharmaceutical Industries Limited and Global Paper, etc.

In November 2019, Museveni ordered Chinese firms and individuals growing rice in wetlands to vacate immediately.

“I don’t like swamp rice, swamp rice here is dangerous because they grow it in the Nile tributaries. They are branches of the Nile, they dry them up and so I want to stop it,” Museveni said.

Museveni delivered this order during the opening of the 10th Africa-China poverty reduction and development conference at Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo,

Again, his words fell on soundproof ears.

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