There are 42000 people awaiting land compensation by Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).
In essence, the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) are more than the number of students enrolled at Makerere University.
In an interview, Mr Edward Muteesa, the principal projects officer UETCL, said the transmission company has 42,000 people to compensate for only 15 active projects.
“Right now, we have 15 active projects and the total people to compensate are 42,000,” he says.
UETCL is currently compensating people along the Mutundwe-Entebbe line, Karuma dam evacuation lines, Namanve line and Tororo – Lira line among others.
Land compensation is an expensive venture, for instance, Mutundwe- Entebbe line, which occupies only 25 Kilometres is slated to take up Shs56b, Karuma dam evacuation lines which is about 268km is taking about Shs60b in compensation and Masaka- Mbarara, requires about Shs80b.
However, compensation amounts are not indicative of the number of PAPs.
Karuma evacuation lines, Mr Muteesa says has many PAPs while Mutundwe – Entebbe has few PAPs but much higher valued land.
Tororo- Lira line has over 40,00 PAPs to be compensated, making up 9.5 per cent of the total compensation ring.
According to UETCL, Tororo - Lira line has been the most challenging in compensation propelled mainly by lawyers who influence PAPs to ask for higher amounts contrary to that offered by government.
“Lawyers are fishing for clients and influencing PAPs to go to court even after they have agreed to government terms,” he explains.
He expounded that the legal fraternity has become unscrupulous since upon victory in court, they remit nearly the same amount as offered by government to the PAP and retain the remainder.
Land compensation wrangles, UETCL says, account for 80 per cent of delays in the energy projects, some attributed to the legal fraternity whose injunctions halt all activities from going forward.
Over 30 cases are currently in court to resolve land compensation disputes with UETCL.
In addition to legal chains, the transmission company also struggles with challenges of untitled land and lack of documentation by PAPs.
Lack of documentation indicating land ownership leaves the transmission company muddled about who to compensate.
And for those with the documentation, valuation by different parties indicating different amounts tends to stall the compensation process.
In this case, a figure usually approved by the chief government valuer, who is in charge of determining the compensation figures for different areas tends to be lower than private valuers whose methods of determining value for land is hazy.
Mr Muteesa believes that a scientific and transparent approach to valuing land should be incorporated to ensure uniform results which will hasten the compensation process.
He also believes that government’s direction in curbing land compensation challenges should be by changing the law and introducing access privileges for government.
Essentially, this would mean government is allowed to access the land and let the land issues be solved afterwards to mitigate slowing down of government projects.
How UETCL compensates you for your land
Energy projects need land for a right of way and way leaves which could range between 40 metres and 60 metres. Right of way is where the station and tower are set up so that 100 per cent of the land is acquired while way leaves is the distance from the station where electricity charge is still heavy for human habitation.
However, short trees and farming could be allowed in that area so UETCL pays a percentage of the value of the land but the land still belongs to the PAP.
In urban areas where land is highly valued, UTECL is setting up monopods which are stations that will require only about 10 metres.