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NEMA clears Sudhir to construct Kitubulu Resort project

by Editorial Team
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By Charles Etukuri

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has cleared mogul Sudhir Ruparelia and his company Speke Hotel (1996) Limited to continue the construction of Kitubulu Resort project in Entebbe at the shores of Lake Victoria. 

In a statement issued on Thursday, July 28, 2022, NEMA said: “It has finally agreed with Speke Hotel (1996) Limited on measures for safeguarding the ecological integrity of Lake Victoria while implementing the Speke Resort project at Kitubulu, Katabi sub-county, Wakiso District.” 

NEMA said this was done following the conclusion of its satisfaction of the project design review and adjustments by the developer under the guidance of NEMA, to address all issues that would compromise the integrity of Lake Victoria and the surrounding environment. 

On December 10, 2021, NEMA issued a stop notice to the developer over what it termed a breach of conditions in the Environment and Social Impact Assessment Certificate No. NEMA/EIA/11651 was earlier issued to the developer in 2020. 

“The developer had commenced work without obtaining a lake shore user permit which is a legal requirement, and there were also concerns of siltation of Lake Victoria by the soil from the site,” NEMA said. 

On December 15, 2021, NEMA held a meeting with the management of Speke Hotel (1996) Limited to guide the developer on how to sustainably undertake the project. 

The statement indicated that several subsequent engagements have since been undertaken including inspections and site visits by the NEMA Board, Environmental inspectors, the Environmental Police, and the area’s Local Government. 

“On April 29, 2022, following NEMA 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 submitted adjusted designs and revised project implementation modalities. NEMA has reviewed and finally endorsed the revised master plan and implementation modalities for the Speke Hotel Resort at Kitubulu,” NEMA said. 

In addition to the revised masterplan, NEMA has agreed to the project with the following conditions that Speke Hotel (1996) Limited must adhere to going forward; 

“There will be no permanent structure erected within 20 meters of the water line to protect the shoreline from potential siltation; there shall be no dumping of soil or other waste whatsoever into the lake during the construction phase and implementation phase; all waste must be treated on-site in a cyclical manner.” 

NEMA also said there will be no waste discharged into the lake even after treatment of effluent; the water treatment plant must be relocated as far back as possible in tandem with the coordinates provided by NEMA; the community should not be barred from access to the beachside of the Resort; Speke Hotel (1996) Limited must install beach/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 the technical guidance of the Directorate of Water Resources. 

NEMA also directed that; 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. It also noted that the land taken up by increasing water levels remains protected as part of the lake and no reclamation of the same should be done. Such land can be used as a beach area in case of water recession and no infrastructure should be established in such area since it is needed for water fluctuation movements. 

In 2019, Sudhir unveiled plans to erect a $100m (Sh370b) five-star hotel in Kitubulu site that used to host the Ssese Gateway beach hotel. 

The hotel will sit on a 20-acre piece of land Sudhir bought from the former owners of Ssese Gateway Beach. It will consist of 350 guestrooms.

Its construction started in 2020 and was supposed to take three years before it was halted by NEMA. 

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