Tapac residents blocking the road.
Hundreds of people affected by the construction of Lokitanyala – Kitale Highway have blocked the road protesting the delayed compensation by the government.
The angry residents on Sunday blocked the road at the junction between Tapac trading center and Kosiroi demanding for the compensation of the 42 kilometer stretch.
This morning our reporter found several trucks from the Tororo cement factory being denied access to the Kosiroi mining site where they ferry limestone. The same road is also used to connect to Amudat district through Looro sub county.
Charles Tokon, a resident of Tapac trading center says ever since they filled compensation forms early last year, they have not received any response from the UNRA and yet they promised to compensate them within a period of six months.
Tokon said before their houses were demolished, UNRA gave them money for six months to rent outside as they wait for their compensation but unfortunately two months have already elapsed and now the landlords are demanding them money which they can’t afford.
‘’ UNRA said they would pay us within six months but I’m wondering what is happening because they are not communicating and now we are on pressure because our landlords are demanding money,” explained Tokon.
Tokon said whenever they try to raise the matter to the UNRA officials, they are just tossed around.
Emmanuel Lorot, another resident, says UNRA should consider compensating them in time to avoid conflicts with the community. Lorot says the delays in payments are going to affect the road construction project because they are not willing to allow the works to continue before they are paid.
Lorot said the road works has left their gardens, homes and trees destroyed but UNRA is delaying to give them their money that they would use for constructing somewhere else.
Robert Lomongin, whose house was destroyed, urged the government to consider the skyrocketing prices while valuing their property for compensation. “Prices for building materials have increased and we may not be able to replace our houses, so we hope UNRA is considering that too,” he added.
John Achia, the Tapac sub county chief said the affected persons were told to go and rent as they wait for their payments which were expected in about six months from December last year. He attributed the delays in compensation to the government processing of finances that requires the system upgrade since it’s a new financial year.
According to him, the affected persons will be paid as soon as the government is done with the issues of accountability. He urged the community to be patient and allow works to continue as they wait for the government response towards their concerns.
However, Eng. Benjamin Enyuku, the Uganda National Roads Authorities (UNRA) Deputy Resident Engineer admitted the delays saying they had assured to pay the affected persons within the period of six months but unfortunately some changes have affected the process.
Enyuku says the affected people were asked to provide their details for compensation and everything was approved and only pending government action. He said the locals should not worry because the government is ready to pay their money after working on a few
Enyuku said they will be meeting the affected persons next week to have all the concerns addressed amicably so as to avoid any protests from the community in the near future.
The construction of a new highway linking Moroto to Kenya is being upgraded to Bitumen II grade and the contract is an extension of the job done on the Soroti –Katakwi-Moroto road section at a total amount of about 646.8 billion shillings.