Government asked each residents to offer eight meters of their farm land for opening up roads and water channels, which the farmers accepted.
Residents of Lamwo district have refused to offer additional land for the completion Agoro Irrigation scheme. Last year, government embarked on the reconstruction of Agoro Irrigation scheme. Government asked reach esidents to offer eight meters of their farm land for opening up roads and water channels, which the farmers accepted. After opening the roads Dott Service, which was contracted to build the irrigation scheme, demanded for another 12 meters of land from the residents for the completion of the project.
The affected residents rejected the request and instead accused Dott services of reneging on an earlier agreement between government and the farmers. James Tokwi, a farmer from Goloro village, Oba parish in Agoro sub-county is one of the affected residents. Tokwi says that in their meeting with officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries before the commencements of the project, they were requested to surrender eight meters of their land for the irrigation works, which they accepted.
Tokwi now wonders why the contractor is demanding for additional land. He explains that they cannot give away more land because it will affect their production. Tokwi whose land has been divided into two, due to the opening of the roads beliefs that what they have offered is enough.
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Denis Ocan, the chairperson of Agoro Rice Growers’ Association concurs with Tokwi. Ocan explains that the community was not sensitized properly on the implication of the rehabilitation of the irrigation scheme. He says that government initially asked for only 8 meters of land but has now turned around to demand for 20 meters.
Ocan calls on government and the contractor to meet the affected people to address their concerns before pushing for more land. He also accuses the contractor of destroying their crops in the garden without any compensation.
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He says if the contractor continues to destroy crops without compensation, they will be left with no option but to seek legal redress. Geoffrey Otema, the community liaison officer for the project acknowledges the problem. He however insists that the community has been involved in the rehabilitation works from the onset of the project.
Otema says that a few other people surrendered their land for opening up the roads while others are still resisting. He says that where they made resistance they forcefully opened up the roads, but adds that residents will be compensated for whatever has been destroyed.
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But Okello Omot, the site engineer Dott Services has ruled out the issue of compensation. Omot says it was the locals who requested the government to rehabilitate the irrigations scheme. Omot challenges the farmers to address their issue of compensation to Lamwo district local government for action;
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Officials of Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries have not yet commented on the developments. Farmers have vowed to raise their concerns to them at the end of this month during their monthly progress update meeting.
The 670 acre irrigation scheme will cost the government a total of 27 billion shillings to rehabilitate. The rehabilitation and reconstruction is expected to be completed in December this year before the scheme is handed over to members of Agoro Farmers’ Association.