PIC: Emmanuel Ssenkubuge, the Kirembwe Local Council (LC1) Chairperson show off how his plantation has been affected by the electrification project. (Davis Buyondo)
Residents of Nabigasa sub-county are compalining that they have not been compensated for their plantations and property, including houses, pit-latrines and graveyards where electricity line is passing.
This began in December last year during the installing electricity poles to join the three-phase power lines in the ongoing rural electrification project.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) contracted UMEME to carry out the project and UMEME sub-contracted City Harvest (U) Limited to do the job in Nabigasa.
Residents told New Vision that surveying of their land and destruction of properties took them by surprise.
In the project of this nature, residents are not supposed to use the land or property near the lines. It is recommended to leave a distance of at least 10ft to 15 ft from the lines.
Kirembwe local council (LC1) chairperson Emmanuel Ssenkubuge, one of those affected residents, says they were neither contacted for permission nor compensated before embarking on the project.
In this village alone, about five homesteads have had their pit-latrines demolished. Most of the electricity poles were placed just a few centimeters from verandas, in graveyards and the lines will be passing above plantations and houses.
Margret Namulema, one of the residents, says her mahogany trees, worth over sh2m, were cut from her plantation and her pit-latrine worth over sh500,000 was demolished.
“The power lines are bound to pass above my plot and house under construction. When I contacted the company supervisor, he promised to compensate me sh70, 000 for my pit-latrine, which is unrealistic,” Namulema says.
Nowelina-Namagembe, 80, whose says her family-graveyard-was-affected
Nowelina Namagembe, 80, says electricity poles were placed in the family graveyard while others stretch through her coffee plantation, which is her source of livelihood.
Namagembe appealed to the Government to intervene in the matter and compensate them.
The dilemma has since sparked off a spiral of protests, with more than 100 residents threatening to block the project until the company compensates them.
Vincent Kibandi, the sub-county chairperson, says they are in touch with the concerned authorities and are trying to arbitrate the matter before power connection.
Patrick Kintu Kisekulo, the Kyotera LC5 chairperson, said his office has not received any complaints concerning destruction of property.
Some of the affected residents in a village meeting over the matter
Electricity Disputes Tribunal
Different leaders in greater Masaka region argued that dozens of residents have not been compensated for their property, which was destroyed during UMEME and REA projects.
Gomba resident district commissioner (RDC) Fred Nayebale Kyamuzigita, said some residents have kept on running to ordinary courts of law for redress instead of going to the tribunal with flexible services.
Fred Bamwine, the Butambala RDC, said the tribunal lacks regional committees that can receive complaints on its behalf. He explained that the concerned companies are always not forthcoming.
Robert Benon Mugabi, the Rakai district chairperson, said the tribunal has not arbitrated any cases in Rakai, which has left a lot of discontentment among the affected residents.
However, Charles Owor, the tribunal’s chairperson, noted that they have resolved over 100 cases in recent years although not many of them are in the central region.
He added that the tribunal is facing various challenges from limited personnel, lack of independence and enough funds to enable them conduct countrywide sensitisation campaigns.
Vincent-Kibandi, the Nabigasa sub-county chairperson
Dorothy Orishoba, the REA manager, said they have received several complaints from individuals in different districts, but addressed minor ones as they come.
“Depending on the circumstances, the claim is investigated by our wayleaves unit in consultation with the project engineer, contractor, consultant and the chief government valuer’s office,” Orishaba says.
The tribunal was established by the Electricity Act that was enacted in 1999. It was mandated to receive, hear and determine all matters relating to the electricity sector.