Gulu City Misses out on Special National Disability Grant

GULU – The Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in Gulu City have demanded government inclusion for the national special disability grant.

The national disability grant is from an Act of Parliament to support persons with disabilities in groups with start-up capital to eliminate poverty among the people living with disabilities.

The fund was established under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development targeting at least between five to fifteen members from each group with a livelihood support of Shs 5 million.

The Chairperson, Gulu district Councilor for disability, Patrick Komakech, revealed that 22 groups from Gulu district have received the money to support their businesses since the implementation was launched three years ago.

However, he noted that none of the groups from Gulu City received any support for the special program, a situation which he blamed on lack of structural organization in the City.

“We are hopeful that Gulu City will start getting the same support now that the Council has instituted the Disability Council,” Komakech added.

The Chairperson, Gulu Disabled Persons Union, Geoffrey Alli says, the Members of the Disability Council are directly charged with the identification of the beneficiaries and will oversee the implementation of the different government projects targeting the persons with disabilities in the City.

The Council is composed of the five members that include; Komakech Patrick, the Former Chairperson Disability Council Gulu District. Patrick Komakech who now represents the youth and Peter Ouma who represents the Development Partners supporting disability in the City.

Others are the former male Councillor V, Roland Anywar, Maltrix Apiyo and Rose Aparo who represented the families of children with disabilities in the Council. Unfortunately, she passed on after her appointment.

Sections of the Persons with Disabilities which have opposed the appointment of the Committee have withdrawn the petition and agreed to work with the team.

Bosco Oryem has urged the new Council to work with the structures in the villages as he withdrew the petition against the Union and Gulu City Council.

“If it’s the petition that will block us from getting this support, then we have withdrawn but that doesn’t mean we will sit and watch over the Council if our interests aren’t protected,” Oryem added.

The team will jointly work with all heads of departments within the City Council in the enforcement and the implementation of the different projects and programs.

The Area Member of Parliament Joyce Acan says, conflict of interest arising from the different groups did not only affect the Union but the livelihoods of the vulnerable persons in the City compared to the other districts.

She revealed that while persons with Disabilities in Gulu are yet to be considered for the national disability special grant, at least 84 groups from Kitgum have benefitted from the project worth Shs 440 million.

“The fund can only be supervised when the structure is established and this is the challenge, we are facing in Gulu City. The problem will likely continue if they have failed to put aside their differences and work together,” Acan told theCooperator in a recent interview.

Florence Acen, the Chairperson Persons with Disabilities at Alokolum in Bardege-Layibi division says, they had been applying for the grant in the last three years in vain.

Betty Aol Ocan, the Woman Member of Parliament for Gulu City also urged the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to consider supporting the vulnerable persons within Gulu City in the second quarter of the financial year.

Just like Acan, Aol equally has appealed to the union to strengthen coordination and to account for the support being channeled for persons with disabilities in the City.

According to the 2014 report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the prevalence of disability in the Country was at 12.5% with a projection of 4.8 million people living with disabilities.

Meanwhile, the report by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development indicates that 17% of adults in the country are living with disabilities, 7% are children aged 5-17 and 4% are children below five years.

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Savings Group enabling better care for children with disabilities

AMURU – Parents of children with various forms of impairment in Jimo village, Agwayugi parish, Lamogi sub-county in Amuru district have formed a savings group to help fund their children’s education.

The group which was formed on the 4thNovember, 2021 has a total of 30 members whose children go to Agwayugi Primary School and has so far saved Shs120,000 cash.

David Oyet, the Chairperson of the savings group says, since most of them have children, more often than not, money is not available for children with disabilities which eventually affects their education.

Oyet says, given the hard-financial times being experienced now due to the impact of COVID-19, many of them have not been saving for the education of their children.

Margaret Aryemo, a parent of a child with disability says with the savings group, they can borrow money in case of emergencies like illnesses among others.

According to Aryemo, through the savings, they will be able to buy scholastic materials and as well as pay for their children’s school fees and other school requirements.

“Through our group, we share challenges and ideas on how we take care of our children, besides just saving for their fees or scholastic materials. We also plan to borrow from the group in case we have any challenges related to the health of our children with disability,” Aryemo explains.

“I can tell you that we have experienced a lot of attitudinal change especially from us and the general community as far as education of children with disabilities is concerned. Many people think we are just wasting money and this is majorly because of their bad perception. Save the Children has helped us change our mindset towards the education and wellbeing of the children with disabilities in our communities,” Aryemo observed.

Paska Auma, a resident of Jimo village, also a parent of a child with disability says, initially their children felt marginalized and stigmatized because as parents, they lacked knowledge of how to equally care for them.

Through the savings group, Auma says Save the Children, an international Non-Governmental Organization trained them on how to take care of the children with various forms of impairment.

She further said as a result, their relationship with their children has greatly improved because the children are no longer marginalized or stigmatized by them as parents but also by society.

“Most of the time many of us who have children with disabilities, we tend to neglect them and deem them surplus to support especially when it comes to their education. Through this savings group, we are able to save some small monies to help keep them at school. We also receive trainings from Save the Children which helps change our mindset towards our children,” Auma noted.

William Latim Alex, the Headteacher of Agwayugi Primary School says, most parents oftentimes looked down on investing in the education of their children with disability because of their physical forms.

“As a result, there have been numerous cases of school dropouts especially for children with disabilities,” says Alex.

As of the closure of schools two years ago, Agwayugi Primary School had a total enrolment of 924 pupils with 59 of them being learners with various forms of impairments.

The savings group is part of Save the Children’s Together for Inclusive Education Project being implemented in Amuru and Gulu districts.

Under the project, the organization has rehabilitated four classroom blocks in Agwayugi, Pagak, Gira gira and Jimo Primary Schools in Amuru district. It is facilitating home based learning for over 100 children with disabilities in the district.

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Implementers of EACOP project to give 30% project uplift to PAPs

HOIMA – Total Energies, one of the companies implementing the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, has promised to give 15% annual project uplift to deal with the issue of delayed payment of Project Affected Persons (PAPs).

The implementation of EACOP project is by governments of Uganda and Tanzania represented by Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) respectively, Total Energies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

The development of EACOP is being led by Total Energies on behalf of the shareholders. The contract will be executed by a joint venture comprising of two Ugandan firms: New Plan Limited and Industrial Compressor Services Limited (ICS Ltd) to develop and implement the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) to acquire land for the Uganda section of the EACOP project route.

This was revealed by Fred Bazarabusa, the Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) for the EACOP project, during a meeting organized by Global Rights Alert to help the PAPs have an interface with the oil companies undertaking the EACOP project and the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) in regard to compensation issues from Hoima and Kikuube districts.

The PAPs led by their Chairman, Nelson Tibemanya, presented a petition to the oil companies, district leaders and PAU where they decried the delayed compensation coupled with under valuation of their properties.

The residents claim that the valuation was done in 2019 and the government stopped them from using the land earmarked for the project. In their petition, they claimed that prices of different properties including land have increased, adding that money earmarked for their property cannot replace what they are going to lose.

He described the compensation arrangement as fraudulent, full of irregularities, unfair and not transparent.

According to Resettlement Action Plan (RAP), conducted by Strategic Friends International, PAPs were given Shs 12m for an acre of land between Hoima and Mpingi districts but under the RAP conducted by New Plan Limited and Industrial Compressor Services Limited, they were offered Shs.6m for an acre within the same area.

They wondered how these discrepancies came about and suspected some foul play by the implementers of the project.

Stanley Ntagali, the retired Archbishop of the Church of Uganda who is also a PAP says, they are not against the project, but the government needs to address their concerns.

Ntagali expressed concern that some of the PAPS are being intimidated and warned oil companies and government officials adding that intimidation will not help the project to progress.

In response, Fred Bazarabusa said that PAPs will be given 30% project uplift as benefit for the elapsed two years without giving them their compensation.

“We are going to give them 30% project uplift of the total amount of compensation for each PAP as an incentive for the time they wasted waiting for their compensation. For example, if a PAP was valued at Shs100 million, his or her 30% project uplift will be Shs 30 million,” he explained.

He called on the PAPs to remain calm saying, all their grievances will be handled adding that EACOP officials are also carrying out a review along the EACOP route registering the grievances of the affected people.

He explained that after the exercise, they will come up with a supplementary valuation for all property such as crops, trees, graves and houses among others which will be added to the earlier valuation.

He added that after this exercise, the officials will conduct a review on land to ensure that all those with issues related to land get settled.

He further noted, as implementer of the EACOP project, they are committed to addressing all the issues raised by the PAPs to ensure that they get fair treatment.

Chris Emanzi, Director Program at Global Rights Alert said, the PAPs must be treated fairly to ensure inclusive development of the project.

According to him, 200 PAPs affected by the project have refused to open bank accounts where their compensation will be wired and 64 are from Hoima and Kikuube districts.

“If you the oil companies continue to ignore the people’s concerns, then you are going to lose social license of the community and the end result of this will not be good. We may experience confrontation and this is not what we want for this industry.”

Peter Banura, the Kikuube LCV Chairman said, there is an information gap between the PAPs and the government on several issues in the oil sector.

He noted that many are ignorant about the sector and called on the government and oil companies to conduct more sensitization to ensure transparency in the sector.

Benson Chich, the Hoima district Vice Chairman explained that unfair treatment of the PAPs and discrepancies in compensation rates need to be addressed adding that Uganda is likely to face challenges like those faced in Nigeria if the government and oil companies continue to keep a deaf ear on people’s concerns.

Kenneth Babihemaiso, an official from PAU advised the PAPs to write to the government Chief Valuer to come and explain what caused discrepancies in compensation.

He noted that as PAU, they are able to explain how this was done adding that only the government Chief Valuer can answer this issue.

EACOP is 1443km and in Uganda, the pipeline, 296 km long, will traverse 10 districts and 25 sub-counties.

In Tanzania, the pipeline, 1,147 km long will traverse 8 regions and 25 districts. The construction of the proposed crude oil export pipeline will cost Shs. 12 trillion and the pipeline will transport 400,000 barrels per day.

In total, 5,300 hectares of land will be required for the construction of the pipeline, which means that around 13,000 households will be displaced.

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Masindi boda-boda riders hold elections amidst tight security

MASINDI – The members of Masindi Motorcycle Operators Association (MAMOA) held their elections under tight security at Masindi stadium in Masindi town.

More than 1000 members of MAMOA participated in the elections which were presided over by Clare Wamara, the Masindi district Senior Labor Officer and Denis Tumwine, the district Male Workers Councilor.

Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and Uganda Police Force (UPF) heavily deployed to ensure security was guaranteed during the elections.

Before they went for elections, by consensus they agreed to lineup behind their candidates of choice.

Rick Ronald Barongo, who has been the association’s secretary for the last three years was elected the Chairperson after polling 619 votes. His opponent, Nathan Kiiza polled 53 votes.

Bernard Musinguzi Wandera, was elected the Vice Chairperson, Jonathan Wobusobozi was elected Secretary, Robert Kalisa was elected Treasurer, Isaac Ahuura was elected Defense Secretary, Solomon Baguma was elected Secretary for Publicity and Rogers Tugume was elected Secretary for Health.

There was a section of boda-boda riders who wanted to protest the elections arguing that they can not continue when accountability is not given but their efforts were futile after Denis Tumwine, the District Workers Councilor told them that according to their constitution, accountability has to be given after fourteen days from the elections have been conducted.

MAMOA has more than 3000 members from the entire Masindi district.

In his inaugural speech, Barongo promised to work hand in hand with security to avert crime amongst the boda-boda riders.

“If you are a wrong doer and you are hiding in boda-boda, I will surrender you to police. When you are doing the right thing, I will defend you,” said Barongo amidst cheers from his supporters.

He also asked the political leaders to open up their doors for them saying that they need to be offered good services as boda-boda riders.

“As boda-boda riders, we are being exploited by the organizations that give us motorcycles on loan. They confiscate our motorcycles even if we are in a lockdown and they don’t give us our cards. Our leaders should intervene,” he appealed.

Livingston Kandiho, the officer in charge Masindi Central Police Station (CPS) asked the boda-boda riders to help police in the fight against crime.

“I am your friend when you’re doing good things. When you’re supporting wrong people, we shall come for you. Cooperation with security operatives is the way to go,” Kandiho advised.

Tumwine asked the people involved in the boda-boda business to embrace the boda-boda SACCO which was formed in 2018 as one way of boosting their income.

“The SACCO will help you save money and acquire loans at a low interest rate. Don’t be exploited by other organizations and the commercial banks when you have your SACCO here,” he advised.

The new leadership is mandated to be in office for three years.

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