The construction of a power line from Katakwi to Karamoja has stalled following a sit down strike by workers to protests delays in the payment of their salaries. They workers laid down their tools last week accusing the management of MS Forest City Engineering and Technical Services Limited of failure to pay their salaries to the tune of shillings 40 million.
The workers also impounded two vehicles and electrical gadgets that belong to the company. Fred Muwanga, one of the affected workers says that they have not been paid by the company for the past five months. He says that 27 of them were recruited from places such as Mbale, Kampala and Jinja.
He says another 37 people were recruited in Karamoja to by Yaya kabalega, the owner of of MS Forest City Engineering and Technical Services Limited to work on the power line. Peter Lopoko, another worker says that he was employed to dig holes, plant electricity poles, pull and fix wire among others.
He said they would work from 6:00am up to 7:00pm daily under very harsh condition.
He says that before laying down their tools they wrote several letters to the district authorities in Karamoja including the Resident district commissioners, District Police Commanders, DISOs and the LC V chairpersons to intervene in the matter in vain. Lokopo says unless their money is paid they will drag MS Forest City Engineering Company to court.
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Earlier, the workers tried to lynch Yaya Kabalega, Director MS Forest City Engineering Company but he was rescued by police. Kaay, the Project Manager of A2Z which sub contracted Ms Forest City Engineering Company also survived lynching when he tried to intervene.
Julius Gobolo, Napak District Police Commander says it took the police intervention to recue Kaay who had already been held hostage by the striking workers. He says that Kaay tried in vain to explain to the angry workers that MS Forest City Company was responsible for their payments.
He said workers also confiscated a vehicle belonging to A2Z until Kaay paid 5.8 million shillings before his car was released.
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Attempts to get comment from A2Z and MS Forest City Engineering Company were futile. Kaay the program Manager A2Z could neither picked or returned our repeated calls on his known telephone number. The electricity power installation to Karamoja has delayed by close to a year since it was expected to be commissioned in June last year.
Work on the Katakwi-Karamoja power line started together with that of the Sironko-Nakapiripirit in 2010 but that of the Sironko-Nakapiripirit has already been handed over awaiting commissioning.