The Works and Transport Ministry is in the final stages of resettling people who will be affected by the Bukasa Inland port to pave way for the civil works.
In 2015, Government proposed to construct a modern port at Bukasa in Kira Municipality in Wakiso District to handle cargo,reduce transportation costs and expedite the movement of goodsalong the central corridor. The port would also provide an alternative path by connecting Uganda to Dar-es-Salaam through the Mwanza port on Lake Victoria.
Government earmarked and gazetted 500 acres of land for the project. The land will also host light industries and other infrastructure. However, the Shillings 486 billion project has dragged on mainly to the slow land acquisition process because of the heavy settlement in the area.
Some of the settlers hold titles that were issued erroneously to them and are demanding hefty compensation. There are over 113,000 settlers on the land, which covers Bukasa, Kolo, Senyi and Butabika-Luzira among other villages.
Now, Bageya Waiswa, the Ministry of Works Permanent Secretary, says they have developed a Resettlement Action Plan-RAP, which is before the Chief government Valuer.
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However, Waiswa notes that government maintains its position not to compensate any illegal settlers. According to the Lands Ministry, the land in question was declared a Central Forest Reserve in 1948.
During his visit to the area in February this year, President, Yoweri Museveni noted that some residents might have innocently, ignorantly or carelessly bought land from people who gave them fake titles. He asked them to vacate the land to pave way for the implementation of government development plans.
Although a number of settlers admit that they were duped while acquiring land in the area, they insist government should compensate them. Others have vowed not to give up 'their land' freely since they paid for it with their hard- earned money.
Joseph Aswiime, one of the residents, says government officials have valued land and are set to compensate a number of residents in Senene village. She wonders they want to sideline them.
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Other affected residents claim that from their little research, a section of land they occupy at Bukasa was not earmarked for the project. Peter Clever Gakunzire, one of the residents of Bukasa believes that some people want to grab their land in name of the project, something they will not accept.
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Gakunzire says they have since petitioned court and the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Land Commission to investigate the matter. He notes that they provided the Commission investigators with all documentation regarding their claim on the land.
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Benon Kajuna, the Director of Transport in Ministry of Works, says they are making progress on the project amidst challenges. He says they have completed the environment and social impact assessment and developed the port master plan among others.
Kajuna says by September this year, the Startup infrastructure which includes construction of access roads, extension of water and power will be in place. He says the ministry is procuring a contractor who will carry out dredging on the swamp.
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Kajuna says the Physical construction of the administration unit and shipping facilities also known as Roll-on/Roll-off is expected to commence next year. According to Kajuna, the port is expected to be operational by 2021 although some development and expansion will continue until 2030.
When fully finished, 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.