Beware! NEMA releases tough penalties for littering 

By Esther Kafuko

Kampala – National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), the body responsible for coordinating, monitoring, regulating and supervising the environment in the county has released tough penalties on anyone found   littering or polluting the environment.

Monetary penalties and fines are the most widespread administrative environmental enforcement instrument intended to punish non-compliance and prevent its future re-occurrence. Fines can be fixed (in the legislation) or variable, administrative or judicial.

The enforcement is expected to commence on 1st April 2023 with the major goal of a penalty scheme to deter people from violating the law. Specifically, this penalty scheme persuades the violator to take precautions against falling into non-compliances again, and dissuades others from violating the law.

Successful deterrence is important because it provides the best protection for the environment. In addition, it reduces the resources necessary to administer the laws by addressing non-compliance before it occurs.

In an administrative penalty document scheme figure seen by Wallnetnews, NEMA quotes section ,172(1) of the National environment Act No. 5 2019, that gives the Authority, an authorized officer or environmental inspector has reasonable belief that a person has contravened the provisions of this Act, the Authority, authorized officer or environmental inspector may impose an administrative fine and serve a notice on that person.

The Authority further stated that also, section 172 (2) the Authority may require the person served with a notice under Subsection (1) to pay the administrative fine within a time prescribed in the notice.

The notice shall specify; the date and nature of the alleged contravention, contain a summary of the facts which the Authority or authorized officer alleges, be endorsed with a statement setting out the provisions of the law contravened, specify the penalty payable; and state the bank details of the bank Account of the Authority in which the payment is to be made.

According to NEMA, the person on whom the notice has been served shall pay the fine specified in the notice in the prescribed time set out in the notice attached as (Form A of penalty).

However, NEMA explained that in order to be an effective enforcement instrument, administrative fines are designed following a number of key objectives/principles and among these includes; to deter future non-compliance, aims at eliminating any financial gain or benefit from non-compliance, also be proportionate to the nature of the offence and the harm caused and for responsive and consider what is appropriate for the particular offender and regulatory issue.

NEMA further informs the public that the penalty scheme shall operate to be effective in the whole country- Uganda, procedure for the operation of the penalty scheme.

Whereas where the Authority, an authorized officer or environmental inspector has reasonable grounds to believe that any person is committing or has committed an offence under the provisions of the National Environment Act, attendant regulations to which the above provisions apply, he or she may give that person the prescribed notice in writing offering the opportunity of the discharge of any liability to conviction of that offence by payment of a penalty under this scheme.

The Authority then retains the right to suspend operations of a facility, withdrawal of the ESIA, permit, license and other relevant documentation until the fine is paid.

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