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Environmental polluters will be dealt with - Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, has promised to intervene in the long-running battle to save the Mabira Central Forest Reserve that has been a thorn in the neck of communities for such a long time.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa participates in a tree planting session at St. Joseph's seminary, Nyenga

Mabira Central Forest Reserve, located on the Kampala—Jinja Highway at about 54 Km from the capital occupies parts of Buikwe District where the Deputy Speaker went last Friday to celebrate his 42nd birthday.

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Tayebwa heard touching stories from local communities including area Members of Parliament who petitioned him to use his authority to call out the National Forestry Authority and the National Environment Management Authority to do their regulatory job right.

The Deputy Speaker who was in the company of his wife Anita Rukundo Tayebwa and the Rotary Club of Kampala Central planted trees at St. Joseph's Seminary Nyenga, a minor catholic secondary school purposed for training priests.

"We are having a problem here of Mabira Forest [Reserve] which is being cut down at high speed everyday. All the other forests in the district are also being but depleted. We have engaged NFA to come and help us but we have failed," the State Minister in the office of the Vice President and Woman Member of Parliament for Buikwe District, Ms Diana Mutasingwa, said.

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She added: "We request for your assistance in helping us with NFA and the issue of Mabira [Central] Forest [Reserve]."

Mr. Jimmy Lwanga, the Member of Parliament for Njeru Municipality said some factories were flaunting environmental protocols with impunity.

He told Tayebwa that environmental protection agencies including the National Forestry Authority and the National Environment Management Authority were sleeping on the job and that he needed to call them out.

Lwanga who sits on the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament said factories had been set up in residential areas and that they were polluting the environment with wanton abuse.

"NEMA needs to regulate this industry. We need investors but again, our life matters," he said, expressing concern over the rate at which forests were also being depleted.

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"And the culprits who are hiding behind have political God-fathers in this country. So, however much we try to fight them legally you cannot manage them".

Tayebwa was shocked by the extent of destruction in and around Mabira Central Forest Reserve.

He promised that he would despatch two Parliamentary Committees including the Natural Resources Committee and Climate Change to assess the maginitude of the matter and report to the House.

Tayebwa said whoever has participated in committing environmental crimes at Mabira Central Forest Reserve would be made to pay for their sins.

"I'm going to send the Committee of Natural Resources and the one of Climate Change to pay a special visit around Mabira and the factories we are having around so that we come up with clear resolutions and we support the Minister [Mutasingwa] and whoever is polluting must pay," Tayebwa said.

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He added: "If you're polluting, you pay, as a measure of mitigation. You can't stop development but sustainable development whereby you pay for your sins".

He insisted Parliament would hold all those responsible to account for their environmental crimes.

The deputy speaker also called for planting of indigenous trees.

"We should reduce Eucalyptus trees, Pine trees and we should now be planting our indigenous trees which will be harvested in 100 years."

Tayebwa emphasized that preserving the environment was nothing less than preserving life and said trees and forests play an essential role in mitigating the impact of climate change.

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"As deforestation continues, we must put back what we’re taking away," he said, adding that by planting more trees, it will contribute to reforestation efforts, restoring lost forests, repairing damaged ecosystems and mitigating climate changes.

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