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How Washing Bays Are Impacting Ecosystem

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Joshua Kato

Outdoor vehicle washing bays, especially those established along waterways and wetlands, have become a major environmental concern in urban areas.

This is particularly problematic when the effluents are discharged directly into the water system without treatment.

Given that commercial car washing bay activities require the use of large amounts of water that returns into surface waterways daily, it presents high potential of contaminating water sources making them unsafe for humans, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

In Uganda, car-washing bays have become popular and lucrative among the urban youth as a source of livelihood due to the low start-up requirements.

This has resulted into the establishment of a large number of washing bays along river courses, and wetlands.

Motor vehicle washing activities, due to their potential adverse environmental effects are enlisted as regulated by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) where the decision to or not to permit the trade should be reached after undertaking thorough environmental impact assessments.

Most vehicle washing bays along the swamp and river systems are not monitored by NEMA.

Additionally, rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation, which often encroaches into nearby swamp and river reserves, results in the shrinking of wetland sizes.

This limits the sustainability of the wetlands as purifiers of discharged wastes.

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