From Nangayi Guyson, The LEP Correspondent, Kampala Uganda
ne of Uganda’s biggest soap factories, the Mukwano Soap Factory was on Wednesday morning closed by the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) for allegedly polluting the environment.
The factory, part of Mukwano Group of Companies, is based in the heart of Uganda’s Capital Kampala with other operations around East Africa. According to KCCA officials, the factory had for long violated the City environmental rules and failed to comply with instructions to stop the emission of heavy smoke and continued discharging liquid chemical effluent and untreated wastewater in Nakivubo channel contributing to lachrymal pollution load and depleted oxygen levels in the City. In the same factory, the management had also failed to put in place proper sanitary facilities for factory staff.
The closed factory along Mukwano Road in Kampala is where the Group’s headquarters are located. The group has other manufacturing facilities and assets in Masindi, Lira and Mbale Districts. It also maintains manufacturing facilities and assets in Mombasa, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania among other locations.
Dr John Lule, the KCCA principal health officer who led the operation, said the factory refused to comply with KCCA notices served to it on March 7 and 15 this year, and had thus become a public health nuisance, as spelt out by the Public Health Act Cap 281 Sec 57 (U). KCCA wants the factory to change its combustion system from biomass to another appropriate energy source that does not produce heavy smoke into the atmosphere. The factory is also required to raise its chimney pipes to an appropriate height that does not directly produce smoke to levels that put the general public at risk.
The factory has been ordered to present to the KCCA directorate of health and environment a NEMA environmental audit report proving that their emission levels are safe to the environment and the general public. The National Water and Sewerage Corporation has always complained about the high cost of treating water in its pumping sites due to the presence of heavy chemicals attributed to factories polluting the Nakivubo Channel.
The rising of pollution levels in Lake Victoria have also been blamed on point sources and non-point sources such as deficient sewage and industrial wastewater plants, small-scale workshops, waste oil from parking lots and car repair garages that are major sources of pollution load for the lake. The sewer system in Kampala city serves only a small fraction of the city population and only 10 per cent of all sewage generated in Kampala gets treated. Guesthouses, slum dwellings and industries, discharge untreated wastewater in Nakivubo channel, which flows into Murchison Bay and then contribute to lachrymal pollution load and depleted oxygen levels in Lake Victoria.
The Mukwano Group of Companies is the leading manufacturer of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) in the Great Lakes Region, producing a wide range of high quality and affordable market leader brands like soaps, edible cooking oils and fats, detergents, beverages, personal care products and plastics. The company employs over 6,000 staff across the region and invests heavily in its human resource through on job-training, workshops, seminars and other capacities.