Delays Cited in Rural Electrification Compensations

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In short
Officials from the Rural Electrification Agency led by the executive Director Godfrey Turyahikayo told Parliament's Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) that they cannot avoid audit queries on outstanding compensation for way leaves with the minimal allocations from government.

Delays have been cited in the payment of compensation of land owners in rural areas by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) following inadequate allocation to compensation from government.
 
Officials from the Rural Electrification Agency led by the Executive Director Godfrey Turyahikayo told Parliament's Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) that they cannot avoid audit queries on outstanding compensation for way leaves with the minimal allocations from government.
 
In the financial year 2013, the auditor General queried a UGX 9.5billion outstanding compensation for way leaves the agency owes to several land owners.
 
However, the figure has since increased to UGX 72billion over the years as revealed by the Deputy Executive Director REA, Godfrey Werikhe.
 
Werikhe told the Committee that in this financial year, the agency submitted a request of UGX 72billion to the Finance Ministry to cater for compensations but that government only availed UGX 16.9billion.
He explained that compensation is only done as and when funds become available and that funds from development partners do not cover compensation.
 
He said that compensation is paid using funding from Government which funding he said is always inadequate.
 
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In his audit report, the auditor general noted with concern that power lines traverse huge expanses of land, whose owners have to be compensated for the losses incurred while the construction works are being undertaken but that despite the assessment of expected losses being carried out prior to construction by professional valuers, the owners are not compensated before the lines are constructed.
The Audit review revealed that for a number of finished and ongoing projects, this money has not been paid due to resource constraints.
 
In the 2013 report being reviewed by Parliament's committee, the total value outstanding claims stood at UGX 9.5billion by the close of the financial year.
 
However, the Manager Finance and administration, Rural Electrification Agency Patrick Kyakulaga said that this figure has since been reduced by UGX 2billion payment.
 
The Auditor general said that the continued failure to have these compensations settled exposes the Agency to a risk of costly legal suits, in the event that the beneficiaries opt to take that course of action.
Aswa county MP, Reagan Okumu wondered why the compensation value is not factored into the entire cost of the project
 
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The Vice Chairperson of the Committee Florence Namayanja said that the Committee is to invite the Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka and the Finance Ministry permanent Secretary to explain issues concerning funding to the agency to settle the compensations.
 
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About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.