Residents decry Kampala-Entebbe Expressway compensation delays

Friday August 25 2017

Some residents of Nalumunye village still await

Some residents of Nalumunye village still await compensation from government for their property destroyed during the blasting of rocks that were along the mapped route. File photo 

By James Kabengwa & Joseph Kiggundu

Kampala. Delay in compensating residents of Wakiso District who were displaced by government to pave way for the ongoing construction of the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway has continued to cause friction between the two parties.
Some residents of Nalumunye village still await compensation from government for their property destroyed during the blasting of rocks that were along the mapped route.
In February, as the rocks were being blasted in the process of clearing the road, some pieces of the rocks damaged roofs of houses, cracked walls and some houses collapsed but no life was lost.
The rock is owned by Mr Pius Mugalasi, an engineer and managing director of Omega Construction Company, located on plots between 2580 to 2686B and 103.
Mr Mugalasi says he is still demanding more than Shs17.4b from Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) for his 10 acres of land lost during the process. He claims that the rock has two mortgages worth Shs1.5b each in Eco Bank and Barclays Bank.
Unra gazetted the land for Kampala-Entebbe Expressway on January 24, 2013. The government valuer estimated the land to be Shs17.4b worth.
The Authority and Mr Mugalasi signed a payment form on February 19, 2015 of approved compensation and consequently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the mortgaging banks on February 18, 2015.
Following the continued friction, Works junior minister, Gen Katumba Wamala, earlier this week, convened an impromptu meeting with the residents.
Speaking during the meeting Mr Mugalasi said: “All land titles were handed over to Unra and I ceased ownership of the land. CCCC is using the rock and land. I don’t know why they are not paying me..,” said Mr Mugalasi .
He added: “I have lost income and business opportunities from my property. Despite reminders for mediation, authorities have failed to pay me.”
It was revealed that an MoU signed on February 23, 2015 between Unra, Eco Bank and Mr Mugalasi allowed for payment of Shs1.5b on the claimant’s bank account.
“The remaining Shs14.4b would be sent to my other accounts,” Mr Mugalasi said.
Having listened to their plight, Gen Katumba said Mr Mugalasi and the other affected residents woes would be settled soon. He also ordered for compensation to be effected in a week’s time.
But when contacted, Unra’s media and public relations manager Allan Ssempebwa said: “For Mr Mugalasi, it is a different case. There is an area that we had initially planned for the road to go through but we realised that it would be very expensive in terms of compensation. We decided to realign but still went through part of his (Mr Mugalasi) land,” Mr Ssempebwa said by telephone yesterday.
“Even him (Mugalasi) was invited for the verification exercise but he did not turn up. Other people affected by the rock blasts were supposed to be handled by the contractor and I don’t know how far the compensation by the contractor has gone,” he added.
The road is being constructed by China Communication Construction Company (CCCC).
When contacted, Mr Joseph Zhang, the CCCC country manager, said: “The payment process is ongoing. Delays have been caused by a strict method of verification. We want to ensure that the rightful owners receive the money. So far 40 per cent of claimants have been paid.”
Mr Zhang added: “Some residents don’t have bank accounts yet a claim exceeding Shs1m has to be paid through the bank. The compensation value is almost Shs1b.”
According to the Memorandum of Understanding between Unra, Mr Mugalasi and Barclays Bank signed on February 18, 2015, Shs1.5b was to be deposited his account in this bank as partial compensation.
In July last year, Mr David Kyadondo, the Unra safe guard manager, revealed that the construction of the expressway was behind schedule by a year due to the difficulties in land acquisition.
Mr Kyadondo told the inquiry into alleged mismanagement at Unra that is the headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire that 52 months out of 60 (five years) had elapsed with only 43 per cent of the actual work done.