Nebbi locals scold Chinese investors over pollution
NEBBI-Residents of Thidwer village in Olago parish, Padwot Sub-county in Nebbi district are enraged by the air and sound pollution caused by Mukoda Engineering Works Limited, a Chinese company carrying out stone quarry activities on Thidwer hill.
The residents say dust from the stone quarry activities has presented health risks like; respiratory ailments, skin and eye problems, and safety issues due to poor visibility. They have appealed to authorities to take immediate action before the situation worsens.
One of the residents, Alex Onim, who stays 10 metres away from the stone quarry, said sound and air pollution arising from the stone quarry have affected locals’ health, adding that their pleas to district leaders to arrest the situation remain unattended to.
Onim added residents in the area face risks as they continue to endure dangerous debris falling into their homes during the splitting of dense rocks.
He added: “Our animals are being killed by the heavy debris during blasting of the rock during daytime when the animals are grazing.”
However, when contacted to respond to the allegations, Zeferino Macamo, the site manager Mukoda Engineering Works Limited, said residents living in Thidwer village should have vacated as they were compensated.
“The community living around the stone quarry were compensated based on the reports from the chief government valuer. We are surprised that they have not relocated for their safety,” Macamo said.
He said following public outcry, the Chinese company uses water when crushing the stones to reduce the quantity of dust finding its way into air.
He urged the residents to relocate. “It is so prudent for the affected community to value their lives since the compensation was done,” he said.
However, the interim chairman LCI Thidwer Village, Ronald Ocowun said the community members cannot relocate from their land since compensation was inadequate to sustain their livelihoods.
“How can someone be compensated with only Shs 600,000 being ordered to leave his land, and how will he or she sustain the family with that little money,” Ocowun said.
The environment officer Nebbi district, Richard Ujuku, when asked about the dangers of stone quarry activities said the stone dust if inhaled, can affect the functioning of the lungs.
He said the community living within 500 metres from the stone quarry should relocate for the sake of their health.
“The stone quarry has done more harm to the neighbouring community than good,” Ujuku said, adding that there is a need to reassess the activities at the stone quarry.
He adde that since the community is in danger of a high prevalence of dry cough due to inhalation of airborne pollutants, the site must be revisited for re-assessment.
The LC5 chairman Nebbi district, Emmanuel Urombi, said the environmental impact assessment for the stone quarry was done and approved by the National Environment Management Authority [NEMA] on the condition that the community were to relocate the place for their safety.
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