By Our Reporter
The National Environment Management Authority has threatened to cancel the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Certificate it issued to Hoima Sugar Ltd.
In a press statement issued yesterday, 27th September 2022, the Authority faults Hoima Sugar Ltd for violating the specific conditions and components of the project contained in the ESIA Certificate No. NEMA/ESIA/13709 of 14th August 2020.
According to NEMA, Hoima Sugar Ltd was supposed to maintain the natural reserved forest areas and the eco-tourism site which the sugar factory violated.
“Hoima Sugar Limited submitted an environmental and social audit report for the project in June 2022. Review of the Audit report and our further investigations including ground inspections in September 2022 revealed the following:
There was deforestation of the natural reserved forest areas contrary to approval condition 4.3 (i)(c). As result of this, the area of natural forests that was supposed be protected has been affected severely degraded (Figure 1).
There was deforestation of the eco-tourism site contrary to approval condition 4.3 (i)(c) which has affected the quality of the site for eco-tourism purposes.” The statement reads in part.
NEMA said the above findings amount to breach of conditions of approval of NEMA certificate issued to the company contrary to section 157(f) of the National Environment Act, 2019.
To avoid cancellation of the ESIA Certificate, NEMA has ordered Hoima Sugar Ltd to immediately stop any further deforestation of the natural reserved forest area, eco-tourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban center.
Besides, Hoima Sugar Ltd is also required to restore all degraded areas of the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban center.
NEMA has also reversed its earlier permission to allow the Sugar Company use some land equivalent to 1.206 sq. miles / 312.3 ha as an Urban Center.
“The 312.3ha earlier approved for the urban centre is halted to be kept as a natural forest in view of the country’s efforts to recover forest cover loss.” The NEMA statement reads.
The strongly worded statement warns of not only cancellation of the ESIA Certificate but other legal actions against the Hoima Sugar Ltd if the above conditions are not met.
“Failure to comply with the given instructions will result in NEMA cancelling the ESIA certificate and further legal actions against Hoima Sugar Limited.” NEMA warns.
Hoima Sugar Ltd is owned by Rai Holdings. The family-owned group has a 70 percent shareholding in Kinyara Sugar Works in neighboring Masindi District and also owns West Kenya Sugar Limited, and Sukari Industries both in Kenya.