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Gulu Residents Block Access Road Construction Over Compensation

Charles Kalinaki, the UNRA Project Manager for the road construction however says the majority of the affected persons have already been compensated. He says it’s quite strange that even those who have already been paid have joined the protest in solidarity with a few individuals whose payments are pending.
A section of the road were residents have blocked its construction pending compensation by the Government.

Audio 5

A section of landowners in the villages of Wii Layibi and Go down in Bardege-Layibi Division in Gulu City have blocked a Chinese contractor from constructing an access road in their area.

Zhongmei Engineering Group Ltd embarked on constructing a 2.2-kilometer access road linking to the Multi-billion Shillings Gulu Logistic Hub last week. The road construction is being supervised by Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA and connects from Gulu-Kampala Highway to the Gulu-Juba Highway, passing through the two villages of Wii Layibi and Go down.

But 20 people whose pieces of land were attached for the road construction say they were surprised to see construction works kicking off last week without notification and compensation.

Mildred Aol, the chairperson of the affected landowners whose half plot of land was attached says the commencement of road construction on her land came as a surprise since the government hadn’t fulfilled its commitment on compensation. 

Aol says her land along with other affected persons were surveyed in 2018 adding that government valuers conducted valuation and validation on the affected lands in September this year. 

She however says they were shocked that the contractor commenced works last week without their notice adding that they even have nowhere to relocate to in case their houses are demolished.

//Cue in: “last week on… Cue out…system getting slow.”//

Aol says they have now unanimously decided as landowners to block the construction works until their money is paid to pave way for their relocation. She also notes that they demand to be given ample time to relocate from their land to a convenient location.

//cue in: “so we made… Cue out:…to them working.”//

Joyce Akello, another affected resident says she cannot relocate away from her homestead without getting compensated. According to Akello, they have graveyards within their compounds that require traditional ceremonies before they are exhumed for reburial in a different location which requires money.

She equally reiterates that unless the government compensates her, she won’t leave the land.

//cue in: “ilok ada joni…

Cue out:… tamo iye ningo.”//

Charles Kalinaki, the UNRA Project Manager for the road construction however says the majority of the affected persons have already been compensated.  He says it’s quite strange that even those who have already been paid have joined the protest in solidarity with a few individuals whose payments are pending.

//cue in: “Many people have…

Cue out:…Some more sensitization.”//

Kalinaki acknowledges that the payment for the aggrieved individuals will be effected in the third quarter by January next year.

Kalinaki however says he is worried about the timeline of the project completion which has already been affected by nearly two months out of the nine months contract period.

//cue in: “When government releases…

Cue out:…you to access.”//

UNRA officials have however remained cagey on the numbers of people compensated and the amount being demanded by the affected landowners.

Last week, the Gulu City Mayor Alfred Okwonga who visited the construction site tasked the UNRA officials to fast track the compensation of the affected landowners to pave way for the road construction. For now, the affected residents have only allowed the contractor to proceed with construction works on a proposed bridge, outside their land boundaries.

Construction of the Gulu Logistics hub began in October 2020 and is expected to link up the region for trade with South Sudan. The107.3 Billion Shillings hub designed as a dry port with both rail and truck terminal is funded by European Union together with UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

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