The Ibanda Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Eliasto Akatuheebwa has expressed fear that the monetary compensation by Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to individuals whose property lies in the way of the Nyakahita-Kazo-Ibanda-Kamwenge road, could result into disputes in families.
As required by law, government must compensate citizens (known as project affected persons) whose property or land is acquired for public infrastructure such as roads.
However, the RDC said that the practice by UNRA to hand the monetary compensation to the men is likely to brew conflict among spouses or even cause bloodshed.
Akatuheebwa said that UNRA deposits money into the accounts of men (heads of affected households) and that the men upon receiving the money refuse to disclose it to other family members which he says has resulted into domestic violence.
“Government through UNRA compensated the people who were affected by the construction of the Nyakahita-Kazo-Ibanda-Kamwenge road. However, there are challenges associated with this money. In most cases, the people who were paid were men. The money was paid to the accounts of men in different families,” Atuheebwa said.
“Now, men are trying to run away with the money. They have disappeared. They got their money through their accounts, and on seeing the message, they simply keep quiet and disappear”.
“I hear some men have started running into hiding after receiving the money on their accounts, leaving their spouses stranded with children” said Akatuheebwa.
He urged the men who have or are yet to receive this compensation to put the compensation to good use – building new homes, given that UNRA will soon begin demolishing their properties.
“Men, if you know you got the money, this money was meant to replace the house which was affected by the road. It is not for drinking or marrying the second wife,” explained Akatuheebwa.
The RDC warned that men who intend to run from their families risk getting arrested.
“Those who are running away with the money, we shall arrest you and you will have to build houses for your families” he said during an interview with this website on Tuesday at his office in Ibanda.
He confirmed that his office has already registered 3 to 5 complaints concerning UNRA compensations in the district.
“Actually, almost 5 ladies have already reported to my office about the matter”.
Between 2011 and 2017, the strect of the Nyakahita–Kazo which totals to 209 kilometres was upgraded to bitumen by the China Communications Construction Company (Nyakahita–Kazo), the China Railway Seventh Group (Kazo–Kamwenge), and China Railway Seventh Group (Kamwenge-FortPotal) with funding from the African Development Bank and the Ugandan government and International Development Association.
Since the completion of civil works, project affected persons (PAPs) have been demanding their compensation until Friday 9 November, 2018 when complainants started receiving their money through their bank accounts.
UNRA has already cleared about 20 families in Ishongororo town council in Ibanda North constituency.
When contacted by SoftPower News on the matter, UNRA’s Media Relations Officer, Allan Ssempebwa explained that during the process that precedes compensation, UNRA endeavors to educate the PAPs on how best to utilize the money.
“That’s unfortunate. Compensation moneys should not break families or cause conflict. During the disclosure exercise, we hold financial literacy sessions where we teach these people on how to use the money. We tell them that the money is meant to restore them and to make their lives better,” Ssempebwa said.
“We place emphasis on restoration of the houses and their property as well as income generating activities. We do this because we know the characteristics of our communities. We know that some of the beneficiaries will spend the money on drinking, others may want to get loans, and others will get more partners”.
He said that the person registered as the owner of the property is the same person to whom the amount due for compensation will be disclosed. It is this same person that the money will be sent to. According to Ssempebwa, UNRA works on the assumption that spouses will cooperate in making use of the compensation.