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Family Demands Compensation for Water Project Land

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The project undertaken by Communications and Accessories Ltd was meant to address water challenges faced by residents who had been confined in Internally Displaced People’s-IDP camps during the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA Insurgency in Northern region.
Mark Ocheng Okello points at the solar panels installed for pumping an underground water sunk on their land in Lamiyawang village, Madiopei Subcounty Lamwo District. Photo By Julius Ocungi
A family in Madi-Opei Sub-county in Lamwo district is demanding compensation from government for his piece of land that was taken to establish a solar Water project.  In 2006, government with funding from the World Bank under the Energy for Rural Transformation phase two projects commissioned a solar water project in Madi-Opei Sub-county at the tune of 2.7 Billion Shillings.  

The project undertaken by Communications and Accessories Ltd was meant to address water challenges faced by residents who had been confined in Internally Displaced People’s-IDP camps during the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA Insurgency in Northern region.  However, the owners of the 3 acres of land hosting the project in Lamiyawang Poyamo village in Kal Parish in Madi-Opei, say they were neither consulted nor compensated for their land. 

Gaetano Kitara 83, the family head says implementers of the project started establishing the solar water project and sinking a borehole when his family was in the IDP camp. According to Kitara, he tried to engage the former sub county leadership over the matter but he was instead accused of trying to sabotage a government project. According to Kitara, his compound is currently connected with several underground water pipes that have made it impossible for him to construct a house. 

He also says despite the fact that water project is on his land, he is also made to pay water bills. His son, Mark Ochieng Okello says they had planned to construct a primary school on the land where the water project was established but couldn’t proceed.

“Our request is that we should be given an explanation whether such government projects are just established on people’s land without any agreement and compensation. If we can be compensated for the land taken, we hope to use the money to purchase land elsewhere and proceed with plans to construct a school,” Okello said.

Ochieng says he has already incurred expenses in shipping scholastic materials for the school from United Kingdom to Uganda yet he can’t proceed with the project.  The Madi-Opei LC 3 Chairperson, Charles Obong Okwera, says the family wants to disown an agreement their clan members signed with the Sub-county giving part of the land to host the water project.

Okwera says the implementers had initially sunk a deep borehole but later changed it to a motorized borehole because of the large volume of water it was producing and helping residents in Madi-Opei Sub-county.  He says the family cannot be compensated because the water project is helping thousands of people including them at subsidized rates. 

John Komakech Ogwok, the Lamwo District LC 5 Chairperson equally says there is a running agreement the clan members where the distraught families come from signed with the sub-county giving away the land. Similar projects were implemented in Lagoro and Namukora Sub-counties in Kitgum District, Paloga and Palabek Ogili Sub-counties in Lamwo district.  

The family petitioned the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Land Commission in August last year seeking answers on whether they can be compensated. Their petition registered under file No LI/1359/2018 is yet to come up for hearing.