Govt refutes land grabbing claim

Wednesday October 9 2019

Project.  Farmers prepare land at Ugudu

Project. Farmers prepare land at Ugudu Sprinkler Irrigation Scheme in Zombo District on July 23. The Ministry of Water has refuted claims that government wants to grab land under the disguise of constructing an irrigation scheme in Amuru District. PHOTO BY BILL OKETCH 

By BILL OKETCH

The Ministry of Water and Environment has refuted claims that the government wants to grab land in Amuru District under the disguise of constructing an irrigation project.
Mr Alfred Okot Okidi, the permanent secretary at the ministry, last week said those labelling the proposed Unyama-Pabongo irrigation scheme as a ploy by government to grab land are “detractors” and “enemies of development”.
“Nobody is taking your land. It is [project] only providing you the infrastructure, and giving you water so that you are able to cultivate throughout the year,” Mr Okidi said on Thursday.
Some district leaders are in support of the multi-billion large scale irrigation project while others have termed the project as a ploy by government to grab land.
However, the resultant tension has led to delay of the project implementation.
Mr Okidi last week said Cabinet had approved funding for four large scale irrigation schemes under the Farm Income Enhancement and Forestry Conservation Programme-2, which includes Unyama project in Amuru, currently under dispute.
The more than Shs70 billion project is to be undertaken by the Ministry of Water and Environment.
The project is meant to sit on a seven square kilometre piece of land covering at least 2,000 hectares located on River Unyama between Pawel Kal, Palukere and Pupwonya parishes in Atiak Sub-county.
But land owners in the demarcated area have since declined to offer their land for fear of it being grabbed by the government.
The land owners also argue that similar government projects elsewhere such as the Agoro Irrigation Scheme in Lamwo District have not had any impact on the agricultural productivity.

LEADERS SPEAK OUT
The Amuru Resident District Commissioner, Ms Linda Agnes Auma, told Daily Monitor that those rejecting the project are not residents of Unyama.
“But since they want to sabotage the project, they are now inciting the indigenous people. All the same, we shall do our best and talk to the community,” she said.
Mr Michael Lakony, the Amuru LC5 chairperson, said the disputed territory had already been surveyed by the Ministry of Water for the establishment of the irrigation scheme.
“The educated sons and daughters are watching the news on television how their communities are rejecting this multi-billion project,” he said. “This community will become a burden to people who are educated if we don’t help them now ,” he added.

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