Bukasa Inland Port: Works Ministry Secures UGX 29B to Compensate Affected Persons

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The Bukasa LC I Chairperson, John Kaddu says the question of land ownership was resolved in several meetings between residents and government, some of which he says where chaired by the president in State House.
A sign post erected at Bukasa Town showing the proposed inland port project

Audio 9

Government has set aside Shillings 29 billion for the compensation of people affected by the proposed construction of Bukasa Inland Port. This follows the approval of the Resettlement Action Plan, which will affect more than 2,780 people.

The development follows a series of meetings between Project Affected Persons-PAPs and the Works Ministry, which has delayed the commencement of the multibillion flagship project. In 2015, government gazetted 500 acres of land in Bukasa in Kira Municipality to host a modern inland port to handle cargo.

The port is expected toreduce transport costs and expedite the movement of goodsalong the central corridor by providing an alternative route by connecting Uganda to Dar-es-Salaam through Mwanza port on Lake Victoria. 

However, several people were later discovered to have settled on the land that was initially thought to belong to government. Some of the settlers hold certificates of title, which are said to have been issued erroneously.

Rosemary Tibiwa, the Commissioner in Charge of Transport in the Works Ministry, says after a vigorous valuation process of all the property on the said land, the Chief Government Valuer has approved the compensation monies for each occupant.

She says the Ministry will start with compensating people affected by the ongoing construction of the seven-kilometre Kirinnya-Bukasa access road.

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LTE and Stirling joint venture is undertaking the road works. She also says that from past experience from other bigger projects, they will start compensating the affected persons when they are to commence civil works.

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Hajji Dirisa Ssimbwa, a resident of Bivamuntuyo in Bukasa one of those affected, says the compensation is long overdue. He asks the Works Ministry to expedite the compensation process, saying most of them are stuck given the fact that they are no longer allowed to carry out any development on the land.

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Annet Naiga, another resident is worried that none of the PAPs has been told how much money they are entitled too so that they can plan ahead. 

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She predicts fraud since the ministry has remained tight lipped on the compensation value. Naiga says this could be a ploy to pay them peanuts at the final hour when there is no time for appeal.

Uganda Radio Network has also learnt that the available funds will only cater for the compensation of property and structures belonging to the PAPs and disturbance fees, which means government will not pay for land. 

Asked about the matter, Tibiwa stressed that they have over time told the PAPs that despite erecting several properties on the land, it belongs to government.

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The Bukasa LC I Chairperson, John Kaddu says the question of land ownership was resolved in several meetings between residents and government, some of which he says where chaired by the president in State House. 

Kaddu says that after listening to the resident's grievances, the president ordered that the value of land should be part of the compensation since many residents used their hard-earned money to buy it.

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Kaddu alleges that from inception there have been big wigs in government holding titles on the land in question, some of whom sold plots to residents. He says some of these have been scheming to share the compensation monies with residents, something they will not accept.

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Besides all challenges encountered, Tibiwa says the project is 'back on track' with a number of steps completed including criteria designs and Environmental impact assessment pending approval by the National Environment Management Authority. 

She says by April this year, they will embark on dredging, adding that the project will be done by March 2020. In April 2020 they will start construction of the administration unit and shipping facilities also known as Roll-on/Roll-off, which are expected to be completed in early 2021. 

When completed, the port is expected to handle export cargo worth 411,315 tons and import cargo worth 296,461 tons. However, by 2021, the import cargo is expected to be about 333,266 tons while the export cargo would be 177,942 tons.