KAMPALA – The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), a government agency responsible for regulating the natural environment has rolled out a countrywide anti-litter campaign to help stop littering, which has been a nagging headache for the country.
With the tagline ‘Yonja Uganda’, the two-day litter/waste management sensitization drive was started with a clean-up of Lukaya Highway Market in Kalungu District and Masaka City.
Dr. Barirega Akankwasah, the NEMA Executive Director who presided over the launch said the new campaign to crack down on littering and remind residents about its impact on the environment will be extended to other parts of the country in the coming weeks.
Renowned for its roadside chicken, meat, and fish, Lukaya is facing an increasing challenge from littering and illegal dumping that is unsightly, hazardous to health, and potentially damaging to consumers.
NEMA is spearheading a public anti-littering campaign to combat the rising occurrence of littering and illegal dumping and foster a stronger sense of accountability and community responsibility,” Dr. Barirega said during the launch.
As part of the crackdown, NEMA has also started Implementing Express Penalty Scheme for environmental breaches targeting public vehicles like taxis and buses.
“It is illegal to have a public passenger vehicle without a waste receptacle in it and the fine according to the law is UGX 12 million but NEMA on April 1, as you may be aware, we launched what we call an administrative penalty scheme, where we give you an option of preferring a fine instead of going to court. So if you prefer a fine voluntarily, we find you six million only. If you do not want to be fined, you got caught and the court can find you up to 12 million,” Dr. Barirega told reporters.
“We shall have operations across the country starting with this road. That’s why we have enforcement here. We shall arrest and prosecute anybody for littering. And we shall also impound the vehicles, public passenger vehicles, which are found without waste receptacles in them. We’ve already sensitized public transport. Nobody has an excuse not to have a waste receptacle in their public passenger vehicles,” he added.
Speaking during the launch, the Kalungu RDC, Paddy Kayondo applauded NEMA for involving members of the public in their sensitization drives that he said will ensure everyone plays their role well.
“I am happy NEMA has come to where the problems are. When these people see you, maybe they will pick a lesson or two and copy these practices in their homes. I am sure this campaign will open people’s eyes to the good environmental practices that will save us,” Kayondo said.
He said some villages in the district have in the past faced floods which have washed away people’s houses, a state of affairs he attributed to poor disposal of wastes by locals.
“You never know with this campaign, the people will learn that disposing kaveera in the drainage system or encroaching on wetlands is not proper. When such campaigns are repeatedly rolled out, people’s perceptions will with time change.”
During the function, NEMA donated dustbins to the leadership of the Lukaya highway market to ensure proper disposal of litter.