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Amendment of ‘Compulsory Acquisition of Land’ Act Costly

The Author: Frank Tumusiime

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has disclosed that Germany is to fund construction of the proposed 6.5MW Maziba hydroelectric power dam in Kabale district to boost the national grid.

Following massive interventions in the energy sector government targets to raise the national power generation capacity to 3, viagra 60mg http://culinaryhealthfund.org/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-ms-themes-list-table.php 850MW within the next few years, side effects http://colosseo.com.br/wp-includes/capabilities.php up from 60MW in 1986 and the current 835MW.

“The government has prioritised the power sector because it is vital in development, nurse and our German friends have secured funding for the Kabale project,” Rugunda noted. He said extension of power distribution lines and other energy projects were ongoing across the country.

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Dr Rugunda was addressing residents of Kyanamira Sub County at Kyanamira school grounds in Kabale district, ahead of President Yoweri Museveni’s wealth creation campaign in Kigezi sub region, on Wednesday.

The area Member of Parliament, Wilfred Nuwagaba and the Minister of State for East Africa Affairs, Shem Bageine also made remarks at the rally.

The Prime Minister said due to availability of funding for the proposed Kabale power project the contractor had already been secured.

The US$ 12 million (about Shs 34bn) project is across R. Maziba, a tributary of R. Kagera, 10km east of Kabale town, at the site of a smaller (1.6MW) plant that was constructed in 1966 but went out of commission in 2002 due to disrepair and silting.

In 2009, a new feasibility study was carried out by Lahmeyer International, a German consulting engineering firm, paving way for the planned 6.5MW power plant.

Early last year, Muvumbe Hydro (U) Ltd, a subsidiary of Vidullanka Plc, a Sri Lankan firm applied for a licence to generate and sell the 6.5MW of hydroelectric power from the proposed station.

Dr Rugunda said the 27km Nyakigugwe-Kabanyonyi-Kabale road as well as selected roads in Kabale Municipality would also be tarmacked.

On wealth creation he said President Museveni had commissioned soldiers to spearhead the programme through the restructured NAADS countrywide.

He tasked members of parliament to sensitise the people about it and create wealth in their households. He added that while the government would pay for all seed to be distributed free of charge, the people should determine their own profitable enterprises.
It was a dream comes true for 3-year-old Boris Akanyijuka, malady http://chelseamamma.co.uk/wp-includes/pluggable.php when he finally got to meet President Museveni.

The president is in the South Western District of Kabale for a two –day tour which commenced Wednesday afternoon.

Akanyijuka started his big day with mulish interruptions of the president’s speech while the latter commissioned the rehabilitation and equipment of the District Referral Hospital.

He chose to hug the president's leg

He chose to hug the president’s leg

The boy kept interrupting the speech with yells, “Museveni, Museveni, Museveni.”

When minutes later he was invited for a handshake, he pounced on the opportunity, and strolled straight to the podium.

He opted to hug the president’s leg instead, before asking in Rukiga, “Ogu ni Museveni?” [Is this Museveni?]

Chuckling heartily, the president answered in affirmative, “Ego ninye

The boy also sat in Museveni's seat.

The boy also sat in Museveni’s seat.

But Akanyijukas’ day was not ended yet. He was offered, a seat which he objected and run straighten to the President’s chair. He assayed to take a pew, before being directed to another chair in the guests section.

Moments later he was seen off with a bottle of soda, and a brown parcel, whose contents we cannot tell as of now.
It was a dream comes true for 3-year-old Boris Akanyijuka, more about http://colosseo.com.br/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/json-endpoints/class.wpcom-json-api-list-comments-endpoint.php when he finally got to meet President Museveni.

The president is in the South Western District of Kabale for a two –day tour which commenced Wednesday afternoon.

Akanyijuka started his big day with mulish interruptions of the president’s speech while the latter commissioned the rehabilitation and equipment of the District Referral Hospital.

He chose to hug the president's leg

He chose to hug the president’s leg

The boy kept interrupting the speech with yells, there http://copiproperties.com/wp-admin/includes/class-language-pack-upgrader-skin.php “Museveni, http://decoclosets.com/components/com_k2/views/itemlist/view.feed.php Museveni, Museveni.”

When minutes later he was invited for a handshake, he pounced on the opportunity, and strolled straight to the podium.

He opted to hug the president’s leg instead, before asking in Rukiga, “Ogu ni Museveni?” [Is this Museveni?]

Chuckling heartily, the president answered in affirmative, “Ego ninye

The boy also sat in Museveni's seat.

The boy also sat in Museveni’s seat.

But Akanyijukas’ day was not ended yet. He was offered, a seat which he objected and run straighten to the President’s chair. He assayed to take a pew, before being directed to another chair in the guests section.

Moments later he was seen off with a bottle of soda, and a brown parcel, whose contents we cannot tell as of now.
Among the human basic needs include; oxygen, pill http://clintonhouse.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/uninstall.php water, ask http://ccalliance.org/blog/wp-includes/class-wp-locale-switcher.php Food, http://dailyniropekkha.com/wp-includes/taxonomy.php shelter, and sleep. It is clear that owning property is a bridge to accessing these basic needs.

Article 26 of the 1995 constitution guarantees the right to own property either individually or in association with others. It prohibits compulsory deprivation of property, except when such acquisition is necessary for public use or national security, public safety, public order, public morality or public health.

The acquisition must also be made under a law which makes provision for prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to such acquisition.

Article 26 its self has got flaws that require amendment for the full realization of the right to own property. To mention but a few; the phrase ‘acquisition in public interest’ is vague and subject to abuse.

For example the government give away of land formerly housing Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and the Shimon were done in disregard of public interest.

Such moves propel investors to an ocean of material prosperity and cast the displaced to an island of poverty and material dispossession. Therefore as a preliminary step, public interest circumstances and limits must be specified by law.

Another dilemma is that there is no comprehensive law, nor policy to regulate the process of acquisition, compensation and resettlement.  As a matter of right, amendments to the law should seek to invalidate any compulsory acquisition of land, which does not provide for: notice to land owners; opportunities for land owners to negotiate; free expert (survey and valuation) support to the poor and marginalized;  access to independent arbitrators in case of disagreement on the assessed values and easy and affordable access to judicial remedies; timely and prompt compensation; and lastly compensation prior to taking over the land in question. This will help avoid the prevailing slanted land acquisitions and ensure that the voiceless and poor are not cast in a valley of despair.

But instead of honoring citizen’s right to own property, the government is proposing to amend Article 26 in a way that will deprive people of their means to live.

The proposed amendment seeks to take over private property before payment of a prompt and fair compensation to the owners. Exception will be where the property taken over comprises permanent and physical structures that the owner may get paid before government takes such property.

Ironically, the main purpose of this proposal is to promote investment in national interest and promotion of the economy. But; firstly, any business that cannot fund the startup of paying for the acquired land is nonstarter and no investment at all.

Secondary, there is no national interest in displacing, isolating and exiling thousands of people in their own country. Thirdly, the poor once empowered can contribute to the development of our economy in a much a higher value than some of the questionable investors. The delay in developing Naguru housing estate, Shimoni land and UBC land etc should serve as warning signals.

The proposal to limit prompt payment before taking over of the acquired property to permanent physical structures does not only comfort the rich but directly troubles and confronts the marginalized and poor that cannot  afford to set up permanent structures. Worse still, these poor often lack the ability to challenge such unfair acquisition in courts of law.

Another proposal is that; where the property taken over is not in a form of physical structures in permanent materials, the compensation should be paid within one year. Certainly majority poor Ugandans living in mud houses, will have to wait much longer without any compensation. The resultant landlessness and poverty will rid affected citizens of their dignity, survival and wellbeing.

It should be remembered, even with the existence of Article 26 above, most people affected by various infrastructure projects have had to wait for over four years. The planned construction of an oil refinery and other infrastructure in the albertine region Hoima have left affected property longing for the day they will ever be paid a fair and actual value of their property.

The Courts have already ruled that any compulsory acquisition of property must be before payment of a fair and adequate compensation (see Advocates for Natural Resources Governance and Development & 2 Others vs Attorney General Constitutional Petition Number 40 of 2012).

The Supreme Court sitting as a Constitutional Appeal Court (see Constitutional Appeal No 1 of 2004, between Phillip Karugaba and the Attorney General) has recognised that the right to property is the highest right a person can have over anything to which one claims ownership, from lands and tenements, to goods and chattels and in no way depends on another man’s courtesy.

The displacement of people should be the last resort as compensation for acquired land is no compensation, for it cannot replace the lost social lifestyle, etc. Nor can it put the displaced in the same social economic status. In most cases, the compensation won’t repurchase the lost assets. Even in a resettlement, the transaction costs, the production time wasted, the startup costs of a new productive activity, locating other social amenities etc further eats down any meaningful value. Compensation is therefore a sort of damage substitution.

To the proponents of these amendments, let us regain our humanity. To our legislators, the practice of amending the Constitution without introspection can cost generations of lives and stability. Please go slow while considering this amendment.

Frank Tumusiime:  A lawyer and Coordinator Advocates for Natural Resources Governance and Development. anargde@gmail.com

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