Clear roadblocks in Karuma project
Posted Tuesday, July 10 2012 at 01:00
Karuma Falls - Uganda
This newspaper yesterday reported that the construction of the much-awaited Karuma Hydro-power dam might once again be delayed because over 300 people residing near the project site have refused to vacate.
According to the locals, much as the Government Valuer assessed their land in September 2010, the energy ministry is only compensating them for their crops and not land. And because of this, most have refused to sign off their land, demanding full compensation. Of course if their claim is right by any measure then that will be a strange development because naturally compensation must take into account the full value of the land.
However, knowing how critical this project is to our country's development, it is important that those in charge clear such unnecessary hurdles in the way of the project. Compensation is one of the key factors in such large-scale projects that involve movement of people and it should therefore be handled both expeditiously and transparently.
And Karuma is not just any other project. We are talking 600MW of power here, over $1 billion at stake, thousands of possible jobs and a possible relief from load shedding. It is therefore important that the energy ministry does what it is expected to do in time.
Already, claims of some members of the contracts committee being compromised to determine the winner of this project has caused a setback—which prompted an audit—whose report although already submitted to the President—is yet to be made public.
We already have a history in this country seeing how the 250MW Bujagali energy project was first handled, going to a questionable contractor before it was salvaged by Bujagali Energy Limited—which has completed it albeit at a higher cost and many years after it was first conceived.
We cannot afford similar blunders this time round and those in charge must do due diligence but also deliver on what is expected of them. There is no way the dream of transforming Uganda into a middle-income country will be achieved if the energy sector is not treated with the utmost attention it deserves.
-- Betty Obbo Information & Publications +256 782 734849 / Skype:Bettynape email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org www.nape.or.ug