By Weswa Ronnie
Uganda National Roads Authority [UNRA] has said it’s going to delay paying people who are affected by the Manafwa Bukhaweka- Namisindwa road constructions.
The Ministry of Works in this financial year allocated 20 billion shillings to construct five bridges and tarmacking one-kilometer road from each constructed bridge and works commenced in January, 2023 expected to be completed in December, this year.
The five bridges which are under construction are; Nabukhuya, Kharakara, Nametsi -Meru, Khamitsaru, and Tsakhana all located in Namisindwa district but in different sub-counties.
Last month, over 200 locals who are affected at different sub counties wanted UNRA to suspend the ongoing works until compensations are made.
The beneficiaries had fears that if work is finished, it will be hard for the government to pay them their money.
While speaking to our reporter on phone, Sharp Tumwine, the UNRA Engineer heading the ongoing works, said that the government is going to delay compensating people affected along Manafwa Bukhaweka- Namisindwa roads.
Mr. Tumwine said, ‘’ UNRA has finished doing all required processes like mapping areas which will be affected, evaluating properties of people who are going to be affected,’’ adding the details have been submitted and payments will be made in the next financial year of 2023/2024 since it was not budgeted for in this financial year.
He urged the beneficiaries to be calm as government is planning to compensate them because the land belongs to the people arguing that there is no way, UNRA can refuse to pay the affected persons.
Emma Nakhaima, one of the affected residents from Bukhaweka sub-county said that this is unfair because all government work starts after locals are compensated.
“This might be a way the government will use to dodge compensation for our properties and we call upon local leaders and area Members of Parliament to intervene,’’ Mr. Nakhaima said.
Stephen Wanda also one of the beneficiaries from Namisindwa town council says that the money the valuer evaluated is very little compared to their properties.
He urged UNRA to hold meetings with affected people so that they can hear their side such that they can agree on the real value of their properties as they wait for compensation.
Ronald Butsiba, the Namisindwa deputy speaker and district councilor representing Bukhaweka Sub County said that as local leaders they have tried to convince their people to be patient as works continue.
He adds that during the rainy season, Manafwa Bukhaweka- Namisindwa road has been impassable due to the sweeping off those bridges by flooding streams.
‘’If these ongoing works are complete, farmers from sub-counties like Buwabwala, Tsekukulu, and Mokoto among other sub-counties known for agriculture will transport their products to nearby markets of Mbale town and Manafwa,’’ Mr. Butsiba said.
Jackson Wakwaika, the LCV chairperson of Namisindwa district urged all local leaders to tell people about the advantages of the project once completed.
Mr. Wakwaika said ‘’ It’s true people have not yet been compensated but I’m sure they will do as promised by UNRA, people should not sabotage the project since it will benefit all people in the entire Bugisu and outside.’’
John Musila, area Member of Parliament representing Bubulo East constituency in Namisindwa district also said ‘’ I have shared with Allen Kagena about compensations and she has assured me payments will soon kick off.
“Making locals wait until the next financial year is too far unless the government will add more money since land value increases every year’’ Honorable Musila said.
Article 237(1) of the Constitution states that land belongs to the citizens of Uganda and Article 26(1) protects the right to own property either individually or in association with others for instance groups of people who hold land communally.