Kairyandongo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government is yet to compensate 300 persons affected by the Karuma power Dam construction.
More than 300 people have not been compensated for resettlement six years ago after they were evicted to pave way for the construction of the dam.
The power station of 600 megawatts is a 1.7 billion dollars project financed by the Export-Import Bank of China. Construction is being undertaken by Sinohydro, a Chinese State-owned construction firm.
The construction work which started in 2013 displaced over 200 households from Karuma Town Council while 60 households from the villages of Awoo.
Hellen Labeja, one of the affected persons, says that she was forcefully evicted from her only two hectares of land without compensation.
Labeja explained that her nine children dropped out of school after she lost her livelihoods adding that they resorted to odd jobs for survival.
Ventorina Akoko, another victim, has described the living conditions in the area as difficult for the families and demanded compensation of 20 Million Shillings for her 8 hectares of land she lost.
“I can’t get food for my children if I don’t fetch water for people and dig people’s gardens “64-year-old single mother of 7 children Akoko recounts.
Joseph Oryem, the LCI Karuma Town Council says that five affected people have since died leaving behind children struggling to survive.
“The compensation has been long yet the families are struggling to survive and that is worrying for the security of the place if people can’t find livelihoods” Oryema explained.
In 2017, a section of the affected persons sued the government in Masindi High Court for illegal eviction and sought compensation from the government.
Alice Latigo, the victims’ Counsel says they hope the case will conclude before the end of the year after it has taken over four years in court.
The Masindi High Court Deputy Registrar Simon Zirintusa Kintu says that the hearing of the case was adjourned to November 29 2021.
“The respondents didn’t file their defence and the court has given them time to file their documents and submit before the hearing begins” Kintu explained.
Robert Kogonza, the Executive Director of Friends with Environment in Development has however called for an audit of the compensation process which he says was irregularly done.
However, Paulhanns Kyazze, the Senior Communication Specialist in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, says that the compensation for the affected people was halted when they opted to court.
Kyazee explained that the Ministry faced a lot of challenges in handling three different groups of people which affected compensation and resettlement.
“One group accepted the physical cash and were compensated, the others opted for land and the process for identification of land to resettle them is on but the last group went to court” Kyazze added.