The civil society activists in the Karamoja mining communities have demanded transparency in the distribution of the sh8b in surface rights compensation allocated to the landowners in the Rupa and Lotisan communities.
“In 2022, the communities that met with the representatives of the investing company through their association, the Rupa Community Development Trust (RUCODET), arrived at a rough figure of sh32b as compensation for both project and community benefits,” said the activist.
Speaking during an interview, the activists noted that the parties reached an agreement on various terms of reference, which include allocating sh8b of the sh32b as surface rights compensation.
“Other terms included allocating the balance of Sh24b to cater for the cooperative social responsibilities like the construction of 14 boreholes, the construction of health facilities, the construction of a dam, and the payment of school fees for the bursary-awarded student,” the activists noted.
The call comes months after Sun Bird, a new investor, expressed interest in venturing into marble mineral extraction in the region, thereby seeking an 11-square-kilometer land lease from the communities.
The agreement comes at a time when there are fears from past projects where communities only received part of the money given due to a lack of transparency and accountability among the leaders, especially during the verification exercise.
However, locals are not convinced with the transparency levels through which RUCODET has handled the surface rights compensation money, thereby raising concerns.
- There is a lack of an implementation team on the association board for proper planning on how the money is to be spent on community projects for public benefit.
- Local leaders demand a percentage share of the funds.
- Inflated numbers of beneficiaries some of which are unknown to the community which is a clear sign of corruption.
- Lack of public sensitization on how to spend the money, especially at a time when the region is experiencing famine.
- Among other things, the assessment process excludes women as beneficiaries.
It is, therefore, noted that Ngitopon, Ngimogoth, and Ngichaak are the only clans likely to benefit from the surface rights compensation with the verification exercise already underway.