Gerald Epai, the Coordinator Vegetable Oil Development Project-VODP Buvuma District, says they have faced a number of challenges, which they are almost settling as they wait for the contractor to complete the out grower’s office building for project activities to officially commence.
The stalled construction of the oil palm out grower’s office is one of the key reasons frustrating the implementation of the palm oil project in Buvuma District. The project was unveiled in 2008 with the aim of improving the livelihood of residents through oil palm growing.
However, to date, the project has failed to take off. Gerald Epai, the Coordinator Vegetable Oil Development Project-VODP Buvuma District, says they have faced a number of challenges, which they are almost settling as they wait for the contractor to complete the out grower’s office building for project activities to officially commence.
The contract was awarded to PMU Kampala contractors who started the construction in 2018 and was expected to be completed the same year in vain. VODP secured Shillings 345million to set up the out grower’s building for mobilization of farmers as well as a training centre on the best oil palm growing practices.
The building stalled at roofing level. Our efforts to talk to the site engineer didn’t yield results. However, the Buvuma District Oil Palm District Focal Person, Wilson Sserunjogi, said the contractor has been facing difficulties of ferrying construction material to the island district in big volumes.
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Epai also notes that complaints from residents about the undervaluing of their property and compensation have also affected the project implementation. He also notes that they are facing the challenge of convincing some landlords to offer their land under the system of willing buyer willing seller so as to achieve their target.
“We have had some turbulences with some residents who even sued us complaining of undervalued assessments but the matter has been resolved through negotiations, where needed reevaluations have been done and final payments are now ongoing,” Epai said.
The project targets 10,000 hectares of land of which 6500 will be used by Oil Palm Uganda Ltd-OPUL a subsidiary of Bidco Uganda that manages oil palm plantations in Kalangala District. The remaining 3500 hectares will be utilized by out-growers.
Sserunjogi notes that the government has already spent over Shillings 70 billion on compensating 90, 000 projects affected persons-PAP and securing over 8,000 hectares of land. He notes that they are yet to effect the compensation of five villages of Kasansa, Kirayita, Bubanzi, Bwooya and Bwangwe that were assessed two years back.
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About 8000 residents have registered as out-growers although their morale is low because of the delays. Matiya Ochieng, the Local Council III Chairperson of Nairambi believes that the project is still far from starting citing failed completion of offices.
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Aggrey Wakasi, a resident at Kasansa says they have resolved with VODP to conduct a fresh assessment.