As government moves to commission construction of the 600megawatt Karuma Hydro plant today, people affected by the project are complaining of lack of compensation.
Some 168 residents of Awoo village in Mutunda sub county, Kiryandongo district complain that they have never been compensated despite losing their land and valuable property to the project.
Richard Owacgiu, the Awoo LC1 Chairperson and member of the affected group, says although the other affected people were compensated in December last year; the remaining group has never received even a single coin.
Owacgiu lost about an acre of land. He says according to the evaluation results, he is entitled to 1.6million shillings. The village chairperson says although they were promised pay in May, three months later no money has been received.
He says what worries them most is the news that the construction work is going to be commissioned on Monday, yet their money is not yet paid. The group has prepared a petition they intend to give to President Yoweri Museveni.
William Ogik, another resident says he lost five acres of his land to the hydro-power project. Ogik says the affected part of the land hosts one of his homes, so this requires him to relocate. He wonders how he will relocate without his money being paid. Ogik claims that his neighbours are already being issued with eviction notices despite lack of pay.
More than 600 residents in the villages of Awoo, Karuma and Nora in Mutunda Sub County are affected by the power project. In a telephone interview, Bernard Ochola, a consultant with Infratech Private Limited, a company hired by government for consultancy on project designing, says the residents will be compensated in two weeks’ time.
Ochola explains that there has been delay in compensation due to a change in the payment system where money has only to be paid through the bank. He allays residents’ fears saying commissioning the project has nothing to do with the compensation exercise, which he says has been covered almost 60% now.
In July, government awarded the 1.65 billion dollar Karuma Hydro-power project contract to a China’s Sinohydro Corporation. President Yoweri Museveni is slated to commission the project works later today.