Residents petition over delayed compensation

By Donald Kiirya

The 44.5km road project worth billions of money is projected to increase trade between Uganda and Kenya. It is funded by the African Development Bank.

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Residents of Nangwasi village in Mbale district have petitioned works minister Monica Azuba and Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) chief Allen Kagina over delayed compensation.

The residents have been affected by the ongoing Mbale-Bubulo-Lwakhakha road works.

They presented their petition during a consultative meeting on Thursday and handed over a document bearing their grievances. State minister for environment Mary Goretti Kitutu was present at the meeting.

The 44.5km road project worth billions of money is projected to increase trade between Uganda and Kenya. It is funded by the African Development Bank.

During the meeting, Pastor David Nashianga, the chairman of the Grievances Management Committee at Nangwasi village, said over 50 people affected by the road works have not been fully compensated.

He said some of their property was not valued by UNRA officials during their evaluation exercise.

"One of the residents, Kasim, had three acres of Eucalyptus trees, but they counted only three trees. My house was not valued and Nasangali's family was paid only 300,000 for a graveyard which was little compared to money spent during burial expenses. In fact, they should have paid him sh2m," complained.

Michael Mukwana, a teacher and resident of Nangwasi, asked Kagina to expedite their compensation, citing loss of livelihood.

The residents threatened to hold demonstrations over the matter until they get compensation.

Meanwhile, residents of Sieba village in Sibanga sub-county in Manafwa district also complained that they were not properly compensated.

The contractor identified the stones of Sibanga as the best for construction of the road. The residents led by their chairman, Pascal Nalyongo Watiti, said they were dissatisfied with the assessment and suspect that they were cheated, since the assessment was done in their absence.

"UNRA valuers assessed the people without giving them assessment forms and people did not know what they were being assessed for," Watiti said.

Watiti said they wrote to the contractor, asking them to stop blasting stones  until they are compensated.

He said 560 people need to be compensated.

Ministers and UNRA respond
Monica Azuba Ntege, the Minister of Works and Transport responded that they came to address the issues following a directive from President Yoweri Museveni recently, who also received people's complaints.

Azuba directed Kagina to send her staff to start a re-evaluation exercise for the people affected by the road.

"As for the people around the quarry, we are going to also re-evaluate and by next week, UNRA will sit with the people affected so that they discuss the mode of compensation; Some have already been paid, but some were underpaid and this is the issue that is going to be resolved," Azuba said.

Azuba requested the people not to attempt to stop the contractor from going on with his construction works on the Mbale-Bubulo-Lwakhakha road because they are going to be compensated.

Kagina said once the re-evaluation is done by the Chief Government Valuer, they will know how much to compensate.

"A team of UNRA will visit the quarry and another will go to Nangwasi village on Wednesday," Kagina said.

Kagina explained that delayed payments came as a result of delayed release of funds at every quarter.