Oil Palm growing company OPUL (Oil Palm Uganda Limited) has released wastes into Lake Victoria and its nearby landing site, Mutambala.
The company which operates a Palm Oil Mill in Bukuzindu, a village in Mugoye Sub County, Kalangala District released wastes for the last four days which destroyed more than 150 homesteads, a water pump supplying Beta parish while water in Lake Victoria remained polluted.
Residents who live at Mutambala landing site, led by the area Chairpeson Sulait Kafeero and Grace Nantongo, the VHT officer in the area say, residents have been forced to evacuate from their houses while clean and safe water can no longer be gotten.
“We fear there will be an outbreak of cholera within the area. We now live in a highly polluted environment with no care from the people who engaged in environmental degradation,” says Sulait Kafeero, the area chairperson.
On Monday morning, operators of the Palm Oil Mill in Bukuzindu released wastes from their pit holes close to the Mill after a heavy down pour which floored into the landing site and later the lake.
The residues of Palm Oil have now blocked the water pumping machine which supplies water to Mulore, Mutambala, Beta and nearby landing sites.
“We believe it was deliberate since the operators have not come out to intervene or even offer and explanation. Their officers have only returned to us to dig another trench using their abundant tractors, “says Steven Ssekagiri, a resident at Mutambala Landing site.
Isaac Sserwadda, the in charge Mugoye Health Center III says the effects of water and air pollution have already been experienced at Mugoye Health facility since there has been an influx of residents from the affected landing sites who suffer from Dysentery and diahorrea.
“We need an immediate intervention so as to prevent a cholera outbreak,” Sserwadda says.
An Environment Impact Assessment Plan seen by Entebbe Post deters the Palm Oil Growing Company from pouring wastes directly into Lake Victoria.
It is not the first time Oil Palm Uganda Limited disrespects the ingredients of an Environment Impact Assessment on Palm Oil Planting.
In 2005, at the inception of the growing of Palm Oil, the company planted palm oil seedlings in buffer zones in Bujumba Mugoye Sub Counties, with some planted in the lake.
“The disregard of the Environment Impact Assessment by OPUL led to the deposition of chemicals into Lake Victoria thus destroying the echo system and the Habitat of reptiles within the lake, “says David Kureeba, the program officer forestry and biodiversity at the environment body National Association of Professional Environmentalists.
Ssentongo Kizito, the Community Liaison Officer for Oil Palm Uganda Limited says, the pouring of wastes into Lake Victoria and the factory neighborhood at Mutambala is highly regrettable and will be handled by the company top management.
“There was an increase in the amount of wastes. We however wouldn’t wish to pour such wastes into the lake. We ask the authorities to earmark solutions we can easily adapt to ensure this doesn’t happen again.” He says.