Kampala. More than 500 residents in Bukolwa Village, Nkumba Parish, Katabi Town Council are up in arms over a foul smell emanating from the landfill at a solid waste disposal site for Entebbe Municipality.
The residents claim the dumping site poses a health threat to their lives and want it relocated far away from the residential area.
“The stench from the rubbish heaps is awful. If the municipal authorities do not do anything to control it or relocate the site, I will be forced to mobilise my people to demonstrate to express our dissatisfaction,” Ms Suzan Kituyi Yiga, the village vice chairperson said.
Entebbe Municipal Council established the dumping waste in Nkumba about 10 years ago.
Ms Yiga noted that the continued dumping of garbage in the area has also polluted water sources, besides branding the village one of the smelliest villages in Katabi.
She said residents currently fear drawing water from the nearby streams suspecting it to be contaminated. They have now resorted to fetching water from the neigbouring villages.
“We would not have had any problem if they (municipal authorities) were taking serious measures to ensure safety of the residents. But when you go there, the site lacks a concrete floor. The leachate that oozes out of the decomposing garbage seeps directly into Lake Victoria and the nearby swamp where we draw water from,” she added.
When the reporters visited the landfill last week, they noticed that the garbage collected at the site contained medical waste, household and industrial wastes.
Some residences in the area are located 10 metres from the landfill and a lot of waste was seen scattered in some homes of those who pick material for recycling.
In the same vicinity, there are also hostels for Nkumba University students. “When the First Lady ( Janet Museveni) was commissioning the hostels some years ago, we raised this same issue and Entebbe Municipal authorities promised to give us an incinerator but since then nothing has happened,” Ms Yiga said.
Ms Alice Nassali, a resident of Nkumba, who earns a living from selling empty plastic bottles collected from the site, said the garbage, sometimes contain fetuses, placentas picked from hospitals and clinics in the area.
“We scoop waste materials such as glass, polythene and plastic which we sell for recycling. But many times we uncover other things. At one point, there was a body but it was later claimed,” she revealed.
However, the residents are also not comfortable with the ongoing sand mining activities in the area which they say have led to destruction of the protected buffer zone.
“Sand mining is taking place just adjacent to the landfill and we are worried that runoff water from both sites will contaminant the lake and affect the fish,” Moses Ssebunya, another resident in the area, complained.
But Mr Issa Asiimwe, a site manager of Porch Group Ltd, one of the companies excavating sand, said they are following guidelines issued by National Environmental Management Authority (Nema).
“After excavating sand, we usually cover the pits .We have so far done this on four acres. We are sensitive about our environment, so we cannot abuse it,” Mr Asiimwe said during an interview on Wednesday.
The Katabi Town clerk, Mr Henry Ssemakula, said: “Nema carried out an environmental impact assessment on both projects as required by the law, but if there is any breach of the set guidelines, they are the same people to tell us.”
The Nema spokesperson , Ms Naomi Karekaho, said although they okayed the establishment of a landfill, it is the municipal council’s duty to ensure that the hygiene in the area is of the required standards.
“If the hygienic conditions are deteriorating as a result of the dumping site, that is something the health inspectors should handle not Nema,” she said,
She said prior to the establishment of the landfill, Nema asked the authorities to erect a perimeter fence around the site to block leachate from seeping directly into the swamp but it has not been done.