The Minister of Internal Affairs, Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, has said the government will compel Kampala Cement to compensate several residents in Kapchorwa and Bulambuli District, where the company mines pozzolana, a key ingredient in the manufacture of cement.
For long, the affected communities have demanded compensation, saying the rock blasting has decimated their houses and polluted their water sources due to dust from the quarries, which are located in Kawowo Sub- County, Kapchorwa district and Nabbongo Sub- county in Bulambuli district.
While visiting in Buwekanda, one of the affected villages in Nabbongo Sub-county at the weekend, Gen. Otafiire said government will undertake the assessment of the damage caused and work with the cement factory to pay the residents.
“We are going to start with Bulambuli because it has more claims and later we shall move to Kapchorwa but only genuine claimants will be compensated,” he said.
In their petition handed to the minister, the residents said the mining activities have put their lives at a risk due to dust, vibration from machines and flying rocks from sites that have destroyed their houses.
In response, Gen Otafiire said: “We are all concerned and we promise we are going to pay for all the damages caused and later we will compel Kampala Cement to pay us back.”
Mr Robert Mauka, the LCIII chairperson of Nabbongo Sub-county said government should compel the company to plant trees and construct proper drainage channels to prevent contamination of rivers such as Sipi, Nabujimbi and Muyembe.
The people of Bulambuli have in recent years grappled with endless landslides which officials attribute to regular heavy rains and destruction of vegetation in the hilly areas.
However, latest evidence seems to attribute the mining operations of Kampala Cement, Hima Cement, Tororo Cement and Simba Cement as a major source of the flooding.
There are six companies with Mining Leases in Kapchorwa District, all of which are actively mining Pozzolana.
Pozzolana, whose use was pioneered by the Romans to hold stones together, is one of the core ingredients of cement. It reacts with certain elements to form a hard, binding material.
An investigation by Parliament’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources established a connection between the flooding in the districts of Bulambuli, Bukedea and Nakapiripirit and the ongoing mining activities in the quarries upstream in Bulambuli and Kapchorwa Districts.
According to the report seen by ChimpReports, MPs saw flooded spots along the Mbale- Moroto highway.
“There were not enough drainage that channeled run-off away from the road, which resulted into flooded roads downstream. The Committee also observed that there was an impasse between the community and the mining companies on where drainage channels would be constructed,” said the MPs in their September, 2020 report before Parliament.
“The terrain and nature of soils in Bulambuli make the area susceptible to flooding. However, because of how the mining is being carried out, the committee observes a link between the flooding and the mining activities.”