Members of Parliament on the Natural Resources committee today grilled a city businessman after his company was pinned among those illegally mining sand around Lake Victoria in Mpigi district.
Drake Lubega was summoned before the committee to explain how Tesco Industries Limited started mining sand in Lwera wetland, whose expanse runs through Mpigi and Kalungu districts, without a permit.
Committee vice chairman, Dr. Keefa Kiwanuka questioned Lubega’s activities, after it emerged from National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) revealed to the committee that more than five companies, including Tesco Industries, were conducting the activity without valid permits, promoting them to cancel them in 2015.
When asked by Ruhinda North MP, Thomas Tayebwa to explain if he was aware that NEMA had cancelled his permit, Lubega feigned ignorance over the same. He stated that the only notice he got from NEMA was to demolish buildings he erected on his land last year to house his workers at the site, to which he complied.
“As far as I am concerned, my permit is not yet cancelled and I don’t know where you got the information. This is news to me,” Lubega explained to the MPs.
Lubega’s lawyer, Adam Kirumira insisted to the committee that when Tesco got its permit, NEMA only instructed them to demolish the permanent structures on the site, as well as stop construction of a road to the site, but not to cancel the permit.
However, Dr. Kiwanuka read the October 30, 2015 letter to Lubega, stating that it asked the company to stop sand mining activities on Plot 60 and 69, Block 415, Ntinzi village, Nkozi Sub County in Mpigi district.
Lubega insisted that his permit was valid until 2018, which angered the MPs who ordered him to take oath before making any other submission.
Nwoya County MP, Simon Oyet then questioned him about the letter and asked if he had received the letter, to which Lubega said “he did not know”.
The committee warned him that he could face arrest for misleading the committee. He was directed to go the NEMA offices to clarify on the matter.