UGANDA, Buikwe | Real Muloodi News | The government has delayed to compensate Project Affected Persons (PAPs) in Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) zones, pushing some inhabitants in the districts of Buikwe and Jinja to erect buildings on land earmarked for the project.
Eight years ago, the government launched a $2.2 billion proposal to build the country’s first phase of SGR, a 273km line from Malaba to Kampala. However, the project has been pushed back.
A quick survey conducted in parts of the communities in Buikwe District where the SGR route has been marked revealed that some inhabitants had erected buildings, which might further delay the planned works.
Although some neighbours are cautious to discuss the development, village officials claim some developers are doing so because they have lost hope of receiving recompense.
Mr Gerald Kasonzi, the chairperson of Njeru Town Municipal Council in Buikwe, said some inhabitants say their land is idle.
“The residents say their land has been idle for a long time and they need to have some projects [so sustain their livelihood] as they wait for the compensation,” he said.
According to Mr Felix Dradidi Agaba, chairman of Mpumudde West A Village in Jinja South Division, the inhabitants have given up on compensation.
“We cannot stop them [from redeveloping the land] since the land belongs to them,’’ he said.
Ayub Wabika, the Mayor of Jinja North Division, stated that the project’s delay has also impacted the area’s development goals.
“We hear the challenge is lack of money [for compensation] and the search for a reliable contractor. We pray that both issues are sorted out early to ensure division projects are not affected,’’ he said.
However, Mr Ernest Basalirwa Kasami, the director of New Victory Primary School in Mbiko and one of the PAPs, stated that the SGR construction will require the school to give up two acres of its land.
“The project is long overdue and has disorganised our development plans. When the officials from SGR come to this area, they claim that we shall be compensated, but they don’t disclose the amount and the timeframe. This has left me in confusion. I have now risked and started developing a section of the land,” he said.
Mr David Alele Mugabe, the SGR project communications officer, stated that the PAP compensation process is underway in certain areas and that more than USh100 billion has been paid out.
“The compensation is going on and it is a very extensive process. We have already acquired 130kms of right-of- way from the districts of Tororo and Mayuge, which is critical,” he stated without disclosing the timing for the other areas’ reimbursement.
Tororo, Butaleja, Namutumba, Luuka, Iganga, Mayuge, Jinja, Buikwe, Mukono, Wakiso, and Kampala would be served by the SGR.
Due to the lack of a functional district land board to submit property rates to the Chief Government Valuer for approval, PAPs in Buikwe are expected to get their compensation packages far sooner than those in Jinja.
Mr Mugabe stated that only PAPs who have been re-assessed as directed will be considered.
“What we have done is reassess the main corridor land and station land. We have done so because the government has delayed to compensate people in Jinja, Buikwe, and Mukono,” he said.
Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, Minister of Works and Transportation, asked for support from Parliament for the SGR project’s payment of PAP compensation last year (2022).
The minister stated that the SGR project’s construction work is expected to start in the fiscal year 2023–2024.
“I request that funds are found to complete the land acquisition. A right-of-way free of encumbrances is a requirement by the bank before securing the loan and any further delay in land acquisition could lead to an increase in compensation costs,” the minister told Parliament last year.
He said that since 2015, up to five loan requests had been submitted to the EXIM Bank of China, with answers sent in response to concerns the bank had with the project.
According to Gen. Katumba, 4,700 acres of land must be purchased for the project, and compensation payments for the mainline are expected to total USh581.7 billion for 10,696 PAPs.
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