KAMPALA: A standoff over a Shs600 billion compensation claim is set to stall the construction of the 183megawatt Isimba hydro power dam project in Kayunga District, the chairperson of the Project Steering Committee, Eng Badru Kiggundu, has said.
According to Eng Kiggundu, although government compensated most of the claimants, a group of 13 people rejected compensation and dragged government and the contractor, China International Water and Electric Corporation, to court, seeking more money, claiming they discovered there was rock and sand underground on their 28.5 acres of land.
“These people were already compensated in 2014 and then they just came back later for additional payment for the land. Most of them were Bibanja holders and the amounts of money being requested are constraining the execution of our project,” Eng Kiggundu said on Monday.
He added that the nine bibanja holders in the names of Disson Nsubuga, Berenado Ssajjabi, John Apoogo, John Wafula, Okuni Owori, Adiliano Okuni, Ali Kagoda, Celina Etapu and Rose Achieng are demanding for Shs203 billion for rocks that they were discovered beneath their land.
He also said customary land holders former Ntenjeru County MP Tom Kazibwe and Mr Charles Magumba are claiming for Shs132 billion. He listed other claimants as Ruth Sebadduka and Charles Matovu.
Eng Kiggundu said the interim court order putting a freeze on the contractor’s bank accounts is currently on, frustrating the progress of the project.
“To me as chairperson of steering committee that is supposed to oversee the successful implementation of these projects, I am deeply concerned because the contractor is constrained and has no operational funds to meet the day to day expenses. The contractor has notified all of us that they are not in position to continue operating and therefore the construction had to be suspended until they have access to their accounts,” he added.
He was appearing before the land probe chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire at the National Archives and Records Center in Wandegeya, Kampala.
“The contractor clearly noted that it is the responsibility of government to provide the project land free from any encumbrances and deal with all matters of compensation that are involved. The action to close the contractor’s accounts is likely to lead to both financial and time extension claims from the contractor which will lead to project delays, cost overruns and possible industrial action,” Eng Kiggundu added.