The Africa Institute for Energy Governance-AFIEGO has petitioned government on behalf of communities affected by the extension of power lines by Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited- UETCL. UETCL is extending power lines in the regions of Mbarara-Ntungamo covering the Rwanda interconnection. The second project covers the districts of Jinja, Mayuge, Iganga, Bugiri and Tororo- Kenya interconnection. Dickens Kamugisha, the Executive officer Africa Institute for Energy Governance says the communities where UETCL is implementing the project do not have accurate and timely information regarding the project.
He notes that UETCL staffs carrying out evaluation and assessments just go to individual households with their documents written in English and tell people to sign them without any explanation. He says the staff also intimidates residents saying that government will take away their properties without compensating them. Kamugisha accuses UETCL of using low rates such as 2000 shillings to compensate the affected people. He says in Mbarara, UETCL used the rates of Isingiro, which is a rural district to compensate residents in the town.
//Cue in: The project developers…”
Cue out:…go with the market prices.”//
Kamugisha demands that UETCL uses the current rates to compensate the affected residents. He also advises government to ensure each district puts in place up-to-date compensation rates before every end of March and sensitize people on laws and policies so as to protect their rights. They also demand that government should specify a time frame within which a person’s property is assessed compensated. This time should not exceed four months and any delay beyond the period of 4 months should attract interest thereon.
Among others, government should put in place regulations for the assessment and compensation of affected people as required by section 20 of the Land Acquisition Act, cap 226. AFIEGO also proposes that UETCL writes notices to the affected people. Kamugisha says government, Parliament and UETCL all have up to the 26th June 2012 to get justice for the affected people.
//Cue in: If Parliament and government don’t…”
Cue out:…the committee of parliament.”//
AFIEGO has threatened to mobilize the affected people to petition African Development Bank and the World Bank , which are funding the project unless government addresses the issues raised in the petition. However, Kenneth Otim spokesperson UETCL says their compensation process is elaborate, inclusive and consultative.
He accuses AFIEGO of inciting residents to be hostile to the project managers and sabotage government programmes. According to Otim the project assessors have a grievance mechanism in which the communities raise and register their issues for further review by the government valuer. He explains that there is a project consultative committee in each district that handles public complaints.