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Compensation Woes Still Hurting Bukasa Inland Port Project

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Enock Ariga Marindi, another resident notes that the entire compensation process is shrouded in mystery, saying the ministry has deliberately hidden information from them. He says only a few have been compensated but no one can tell the criteria used to decide who receives the money.
A sign post elected at Bukasa Town showing the proposed inland port project. The project civil works have been delayed by land and compensation woes

Audio 6

Confusion and uncertainty still surrounds the compensation of Project Affected Persons-PAPs as the Works and Ministry gears towards rolling out civil works for the long awaited multi-billion flagship Bukasa Inland Port Project.  

The project, which had to start in 2016, has dragged on because of land ownership woes and compensation scandals. Early last year, the Works Ministry released a Resettlement Action Plan for over 2,780 affected persons occupying over 500 acres of land earmarked to host the project in Kira Municipality in Wakiso district.  

The Ministry immediately embarked on the compensation of residents for their properties after a long struggle over the land ownership woes, which delayed the project. The compensation was expected to run up to January this year to allow the first phase of the project to start this month.    

However, the compensation process is getting more complicated. There are no sign indications that the project will start anytime soon. Florence Awoli, one of the Project Affected Person, says they have repeatedly pleaded with the ministry to pay them to vacate the area in vain. 

She says ministry officials have repeatedly promised to pay them soon but nothing has been done,

 

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Enock Ariga Marindi, another resident notes that the entire compensation process is shrouded in mystery, saying the ministry has deliberately hidden information from them. He says only a few have been compensated but no one can tell the criteria used to decide who receives the money.     

According to Marindi, it is alleged that those with links to bigwigs in government have so far received the compensation money. He says this might be a ploy to frustrate the remaining project affected persons but says they are ready to fight for their rights.       

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Some of the residents have also complained of discrepancies in the valuation exercise.  They claim that some people with small properties were shortlisted to benefit more from the compensation compared to their colleagues with more assets.       

There are also claims of ghost claimants who were attended on the compensation list. Kevin Akello, one of the residents says that to resolve the matter, the Works Ministry advised them dissatisfied residents to file complaints, which they did. 

She however, says that they have waited for the display of the amended list since November last year in vain. 

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Akello says that some people claiming to be from the ministry keep on threatening them to sign for the amount allocated to them and vacate or else they risk being evicted without compensation.  She says the threats are mostly directed at women since there are many of them in different zones of the affected area.  

Tibita Muzaham, another resident says that before compensating the main Projected Affected Persons, the Ministry constructed the supply road from Jokas to the proposed Bukasa Inland Port but most of the affected residents haven’t been compensated.     

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Emmanuel Mpaka, Bukasa LC I Secretary, says they have been seeking answers on several complaints filed by residents but all they are told by ministry officials is that they ''will address all concerns''. Mpaka says they initially trusted Ministry officials but they are now getting second thoughts. 

He explains that during their last meeting Ministry officials they were informed that the works will soon start yet a lot of residents haven’t been compensated. Reports from the Works Ministry indicate that by the end of January this year, only 132 Project Affected Persons has been compensated and given three months to vacate. Although the ministry requested for Shillings 29 billion to pay off the PAPs, they have so far received Shillings 5 billion.

Waiswa Bageya, the Works Ministry, Permanent Secretary agrees that the compensation process has some challenges. He however notes that they are trying to resolve the challenges so that they get back on track. Bageya says that the Ministry together with the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and Chief Government Valuer have formed a joint team to verify all PAPs before they pay off those without complaints and later handle complaints.

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According to the Works ministry, Bukasa Inland Port will be built in phases. The first phase covers preparation of the Master Plan, Preliminary Design and construction of the start-up infrastructure, Dredging, Pilling and Swamp Surcharging. Bageya notes that expect works to finally start in June.  

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The inland project is expected to reduce transport costs and expedite distribution and movement of goods along the central and northern corridors.  The second phase will see the construction of Bukasa Port to the capacity of 2.3 million tons per year, shipyard and floating dock. 

This will be expanded to a capacity of 5.2 million tons and later to the maximum peak of 7.5 million tons. The development plan is expected to be completed by 2030.