By Our Correspondent in Northern Uganda
State Minister for Energy Hon Okaasai Sidronius Opolot has been in Nwoya District in Northern Uganda to have stakeholder engagements with the communities and local leaders to assess the implementation of the Grid Expansion and Reinforcement Project and resolve pending compensation claims that could delay the completion of this vital development initiative .
The Grid Expansion and Reinforcement Project undertaken by the government of Uganda through the Ministry of Energy is intended to connect northern Uganda and West Nile Regions to the national grid with industrial reliable power to spur development and enhance job creation.
The resettlement action plan which started in 2013 with surveys done throughout the districts of Kole, Lira, Gulu, Nwoya, Pakwach, Nebbi and Arua ( Madi Okollo and Arua City) and completed in 2015 has been successful in many areas apart from a few challenges experienced in Akako and Pakwach where some people who were compensated have backtracked on their commitments -claiming that the compensation they received was not adequate .
This has prompted the area leaders who included MPs Hon Atima Jackson of Arua Central Division who doubles as Government Regional Whip (West Nile), Hon Leku Joel-Terego West and Hon Acan Judith- Nwoya District together with Minister Okasaai to engaged the people of Akako Village in Anaka town council in Nwoya District along with the LCV Chairperson Mr Orach Emmanuel, Resident District Commissioner Mr Omara Christopher, District Police Commander Afande Nyangoma and the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mr Edema Stephen Budraa to engage the residents in order to arrive at a lasting solution .
The political leaders were also joined by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd officials led by Eng Abudon Atwine to work out ways of allowing the construction and completion of the Kole-Gulu-Nebbi-Arua transmission line.
During the engagements , Minister Okasaai expressed government and his ministry ‘s commitment to resolve the dispute between the people and government over the compensation rates .He directed all the concerned agencies in the ministry to resolve the issue with utmost urgency to ensure that the project implementation works are not affected and delayed .
Hon Atima thanked the people of Nwoya District for the support accorded to the NRM government and urged them to appreciate the efforts undertaken by government to transform Northern and the West Nile regions- by extending the national grid to the regions to enable investments in industries that will create jobs for the many unemployed youth and stir economic growth .
” My brothers and sisters we have investors ready to invest in our area (Acholi, Lango and West Nile) but are only waiting for the availability of power . The investors have already secured land, identified projects and are very willing to invest and employ our children. We have a huge market across the border in Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. So, let’s support government by agreeing to allow the project to proceed as the last group of affected people are compensated ,” Atima made a passionate appeal to the locals .
Hon Judith Acan encouraged government agencies to always involve local leaders in the projects undertaken by government from the initial stages- to enable ownership and appreciation of the benefits that come along with these development interventions.
Mr Omara Christopher the RDC assured the people the project will be completed because it has the strong backing of President Museveni and warned against corruption in its implementation .
The community had sought the services of lawyers to file for an injunction in court stopping the continued implementation of the project. The area MP Hon Tonny Awany then moved swiftly to coordinated with the Ministry of Energy to engage with the community to avert the court process.
Hon Leku Joel assured the people of Nwoya of the support from West Nile.” We as MPs from West Nile are in full support of your concerns and am hopeful government will address them immediately.”