KIRYANDONGO – The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has evicted more than 200 quarry workers at the hydro power station in Karuma Town Council.
The ongoing 600 megawatts Karuma Dam Hydropower is a $ 1.7 billion project financed by the Export-Import Bank of China.
The construction which kicked off in 2013 is being undertaken by Sino hydro, a Chinese State-owned Construction Firm.
The Project displaced more than 200 households in Karuma Town Council from Kiryandongo District. This decision is being challenged in the Masindi High Court for illegal eviction.
A section of the affected persons who have reportedly waited for compensation for nearly nine years have turned to quarry works in the area for their livelihoods.
Whereas the locals have threatened to reoccupy the project land over slow progress of the compensation, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has ordered for fresh eviction of the occupants.
Oryem Joseph, the Local Council One [LC 1] for Karuma Town Council told theCooperator that the eviction order will take effect from this week.
Oryem explained that a joint security meeting was held on Friday in the area by the affected communities who were then ordered to evacuate the area without forceful eviction.
Debele Peter Paul, the Kiryandongo Resident District Commissioner (RDC) who chaired the meeting asked the occupants to vacate the area latest Monday, 12th July 2021.
He explained that the area is prone to mudslides which pose a higher risk for the people at the site adding that the district has recorded more deaths recently from the quarry site.
The district recently reported deaths of three people who were buried alive by the mudslides at the site, while three more have sustained serious injuries following the incident.
However, local leaders have protested the idea saying the development has turned the occupants in the area to become vulnerable.
Ocaya Washington, the Karuma Town Council Local Councilor Five (L.C V) has urged the government to speed up the process of compensation for the affected persons to enhance their livelihoods.
Zebra Akulu, a person living positively with HIV in the area lost her livelihood to the project. She says, she has been facing challenges to adhere to retroviral drugs but she is able to feed her family with the quarry works.
Akoko Ventorina, another victim in the area, says she lost 8 hectares of farm land in the first eviction which occurred in 2013 and now is unable to provide for her 7 children who dropped out of school.
Wodangwa Munzofu Bosco, the Liaison Officer Sino hydro Construction Firm says the illegal activities of the quarry work in the project area are affecting the hydropower construction.
He noted that those occupying the area are not only the people who were initially displaced by the ongoing project but people from the neighboring districts who are looking for survival from the area.
He also disclosed that the construction firm has obtained permission from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development for control of the disputed land until the hydropower is completed.
“Any activity into the area by the locals is illegal and we have informed them to evacuate the land before another step is taken. We hope they will comply.” Munzofu warned.
The attempt to reach out to Kyazze Paulhanns , the Senior Communication Specialist in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development was futile at press time as he could not pick up his phone calls.
However, in an earlier interview, Kyazze noted that the government has already compensated the majority of the affected persons except those who went to court and others who rejected the physical cash.
He disclosed that while the government waits for the court to pronounce itself on the matter, the process of the identification of land for the other group who opted for relocation is on.
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