More than seven months since the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) issued a stop notice to the $100m Kitubulu Speke Resort development in Entebbe, the environmental body has finally given a go-ahead to the project.
Construction of the five-star hotel, which sits on a 20-acre land, started in 2020 and was expected to be completed in three years’ time. In a statement released on July 28, NEMA agreed with Speke Hotel (1996) Limited on measures for safeguarding the ecological integrity of Lake Victoria while implementing the project.
NEMA expressed satisfaction with the project design review and adjustments by the developer which addressed all issues that would compromise the integrity of Lake Victoria and the surrounding environment.
The developer had commenced work without obtaining a lake shore user permit, which is a legal requirement, and there were also concerns about the siltation of Lake Victoria by the soil from the site.
Under Regulation 23 of the National Environment (Wetlands, River Banks and Lake Shores Management) Regulations, No. 3/2000, developments within 200 meters of the lakeshore require a Lakeshore user permit issued by NEMA. Such permits are only issued for sustainable and compatible tourism and recreation activities including resorts, beaches, marinas among others.
Since the stop notice in December last year, a number of subsequent engagements have since been undertaken including inspections and site visits by the NEMA Board, environmental inspectors, the environmental police and the area local government.
Following NEMA’s guidelines to the developer for final review and readjustments in the project design to secure the lake from any potential negative impacts of the project, the developer, on April 29, 2022, submitted adjusted designs and revised project implementation modalities
“There will be no permanent structure erected within 20 meters of the water line to protect the shoreline from potential siltation, no dumping of soil or other waste whatsoever into the lake during the construction phase and implementation phase and all waste must be treated on-site in a cyclical manner and there will further be no waste discharged into the lake even after treatment of effluent,” a statement from NEMA reads.
The statement also states that “The water treatment plant must be relocated as far back as possible in tandem with the coordinates provided by NEMA and the community should not be barred from access to the beachside of the Resort “
Other conditions given to Speke, include installing shoreline protection gabions before construction to prevent soil and debris from being deposited into the lake by surface water runoff during the construction phase under technical guidance of the directorate of water resources. Gabions are metallic cylinders filled with stones and sunk in water for laying foundations.
“No dredging of the lake is permitted under the first phase of the construction. The marina establishment phase will undertake more in-depth studies to guide any decisions in that respect, the land taken up by increasing water levels remains protected as part of the lake and no reclamation of the same should be done,” the NEMA statement said.
It further stated that such land can be used as beach area in case of water recession and no infrastructure should be established in such area since it is needed for water fluctuation movements.