Sukuru Project Compensation: Corporate Social Responsibility or a Bribe?

By: Paul Mwesigwa

H.E Yoweri Museveni has made frequent calls for investors to come to Uganda and develop the economy for the benefit of the Ugandan people. These calls have been responded to by both local and foreign companies looking to maximize on the rather numerous untapped resources that the country is well endowed with.

Such investors come with huge project plans that lead to the displacement of people from their land or homes as the message about “for the benefit of the people” is pushed.

These investors, sildenafil already armed with government support for their plans as well as financial backing from financial institutions now seek the goodwill of the people who will be displaced as a result of these massive projects.

Schools and health centres are refurbished as well as promise of compensation packages to ease the loss of their property and any developments they would have wished to put up.

Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group, viagra one such investor, decided to reciprocate government’s support as well as show appreciation to residents of Osukuru village, Tororo district who would be affected by its mega Sukuru Phosphate Project by disbursing a million Uganda shillings to each affected household.

The proposed mining area covered over 14 villages, with each village comprising approximately 340 households. The firm claims it budgeted over US$ 1Million (UGX 2.5Billion) for this exercise and the money was only given to those households that would be genuinely affected by its proposed activities.

The firm also promised the residents school bags and uniforms for their children which would be procured from Guangzhou, China.

Various cabinet and local government officials were present as the Chinese firm spread the good news. The then Prime Minister, Hon. Amama Mbabazi further directed the formation of an inter-ministerial team to liase with the local authorities and sensitise the beneficiaries.

Fast forward to 2016, many affected residents are against the firm’s activities as they felt cheated. Their compensation packages were a lot less than what was agreed upon with the district officials and the firm was diverting a portion of their compensation towards processing their land titles.

The residents are also against the massive secrecy that the firm’s legal advisors have taken such as telling them not to have anyone else read their lease agreements. Mark you, most of these residents are illiterate and thus seek help from literate family members and friends in a bid to safeguard their property.

With such actions being taken out on these residents, one wonders whether the money disbursed out earlier was “corporate social responsibility” as claimed by the firm or was it a bribe so that the residents could give up their land and households for a cheaper compensation package.

Secondly, where is the inter-ministerial team now that the beneficiaries are feeling exploited by the firm?

It would also be interesting to know whether the schoolbags and uniforms were actually delivered or they’re still enroute from China.

The writer is a social worker

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