Uganda: Residents Ask Nema to Probe Recycling Plant Over Pollution

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Mpigi — Residents of Mpigi Town Council are up in arms over a recycling plant in their residential area, claiming it emits dangerous smoke.

The residents claim the black smoke emanating from the factory chimney pauses a health hazard to them. Although the matter has been brought to the attention of local leaders several times, residents say they have not been helped.

They have now petitioned the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to investigate the matter and give a comprehensive report.

"We are requesting Nema to intervene. We are going to prepare a formal petition and deliver it to (Nema) the head offices soon," Mr John Mugwanya, a resident of Lungala Township on the Kampala-Masaka Highway where the recycling plant is located, said on Wednesday.

Mr Mugwanya claimed that thery have developed respiratory complications because of the dangerous emissions.

China-Uganda Yong Qiang Energy Developing Company Limited owns the plant which recycles old oil into petrol, diesel and oil lubricants.

Ms Ruth Namatta, also a resident, said the factory owners ignored a directive by the Trade minister, Ms Amelia Kyambadde, to raise the factory chimney to a reasonable height.

"That is the reason why the choking smoke ends up in our houses and schools. This, at times forces schools' administrators to suspend night preps," she said.

However, when contacted, Mr Peter Mutuluza, the Mpigi District chairman, denied allegations of negligence and said they raised the public concern to the area MP (Ms Kyambadde) who responded by meeting the factory managers.

"We reported the matter to Ms Kyambadde last year and she intervened because we (district) had failed to close the factory since we don't have powers to interfere in the work of foreign investors," he said.

Daily Monitor has learnt that an earlier report by the district production, education and health committee made recommendations to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to suspend the company's operations, saying the black smoke from the factory chimney produces a foul smell which could be hazardous.

"... this oil factory has caused a lot of air and water pollution to the neighbouring community. We feel that this oil factory is not fit to be in our area since it poses a threat to people's lives. We therefore recommend the operations of this factory be temporarily halted until effective measures are put in place... ," the report reads in part.

Last December, Mpigi District councillors resolved to close the recycling plant during a special council meeting.

In his submission, Mr Rogers Ssejjemba, the district council speaker, ordered Mr Swaibu Lubega Wagwa, the Resident District Commissioner, to work with police and close the factory within 14 days but this has not happened.

Efforts to speak to owners of the recycling plant were futile, but during a meeting with Ms Kyambadde, Mr Jia Tian Lin, the company's executive director, said they had ordered for a more modern machine which doesn't emit dark smoke.

"We ask for more time to address this problem and we promise that there will be no more complaints once we install our new machine," Mr Tian said.

During the same meeting ,Ms Kyambadde directed the proprietors of the recycling plant to suspend operations until they secure clearance from Nema.

What Nema says about the issue

When contacted, Nema senior public relations officer, Mr Tony Achidria, said they inspected the recycling plant last year and issued the proprietors with guidelines to follow.

" We gave them an improvement notice with well stipulated guidelines which they were to follow in order to continue with work .However, if residents are complaining about smoke, we shall carry out another inspection and advise accordingly," he said on telephone on Wednesday.


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Publish date : 2018-05-04 07:35:00
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