Friday, May 13, 2011

East Africa: Locals await compensation over power lines

Locals await compensation over power lines

Written by Samuel Nabwiiso
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 19:40
Tension is rising over East Africa�s biggest interconnection power
project with some tenants living along the proposed pathway for the
transmission lines saying they have no plans of evacuating unless they
are compensated.

And should their pleas fall on deaf ears, the tenants say they will
seek legal action, preferably sue the government.

�UETCL [Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited] surveyed our
land and we hoped that payment will be effected soon after the
exercise. But up to date no communication has been delivered from the
power company and some of our local people are worried that their land
may be taken forcefully, since the power lines projects are about to
commence,� said Lawrence Owor of Iyolwa sub-county, Tororo.

Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme (NELSAP), an arm of
the Nile Basin Initiative, is spearheading the Power Interconnection
Project, which will see transmission lines linking Kenya, Uganda,
Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The project�s aim is to increase access of electricity in the rural
areas, and bring down the cost of power, which remains one of the
biggest bottlenecks to business in East Africa. About 12% of Ugandans
have access to electricity, by far a small figure compared to say
Kenya, which is over 20%.

Grania Rosette Rubomboras, the Regional Interconnection Power Project
Manager, said funding amounting to $354 million has been secured from
the African Development Bank (AfDB). Japan Technical Cooperation
(JICA), Germany and the Netherlands. The Government of Netherlands
contributed approximately $385 million.

The projects, to be completed in 2014, will evacuate power from
hydropower generation facilities like the Bujagali (250MW) Ruzizi IV
(145 MW) and (205MW) Lake Kivu methane gas (300MW), Rusimo (80MW),
Isimba (100MW) and Karuma (700MW).

The projects shall be subjected to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
and Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) in the respective countries.
Compensation for property, crops and cultural sites is estimated to
cost Uganda $128.1 million.

In drawing up the names to be compensated, Owor says some locals
questioned the level of transparency; something he says has already
provoked acrimony among the locals. He pointed out that the exercise
by the contractor Power Networks on behalf of UETCL was �not
transparent because the local people were denied the chance to
contract their personal surveyors�, possibly to get to the true value.

Owor was speaking at a forum organized by the Nile Basin Discourse
forum, a civil society net work in the Nile basin countries, at
Imperial Royale hotel to assess the progress of the project. Speaking
at the event, Vincent Mujuni Kyamadidi, the MP-elect for Rwampara
county in Mbarara, asked UETCL to quickly pay off locals from his

UETCL Public Relations Officer Kenneth Otim said the company shall pay
all the persons affected by both the Mbarara-Mirama and Bujagali -
Tororo regional interconnection lines once the Resettlement Action
Plan (RAP) reports submitted to the Chief Government Valuer (CGV) are

�The process of compensating people for their property is through a
process from evaluation, report writing, submission to the CGV and the
disclosures. UETCL has received the RAP report for the Bujagali-Tororo-
Lessos line from the CGV and very soon we shall embark on the group
and internal disclosure processes for effective compensation,� he said.

UETCL will own the Right of Way after compensation. The compensation
period is estimated to last June 2011 to June 2012.

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