Over100 residents of Kikonda, Mabuye, and Kyaggunda villages in Bukulula sub-county have sued Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman & Co) and Hunan, a Chinese construction firm for failure to compensate them for the damage caused to their property during the stone extraction.
The government contracted Arab Contractors to tarmac the 41km-Masaka-Bukakata road project. The company sub-contracted Hunan to supply stones for tarmacking the road. The sub-contractor went on to use the 15-acre stone quarry in Kyaggunda village to extract stones for the road works.
Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) Ltd from Nigeria used the same quarry to extract stones for the construction of the Masaka-Kampala highway in 2010.
Led by Gerald Wangi and Richard Kiwanuka, the Kyagunda LC I Chairperson, the disgruntled residents want the court to force Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman & Co) and Hunan to pay for all the damages caused to their property during the stone quarrying.
According to Wangi, Hunan used to blast rocks with explosives, which cracked houses within 500 meters and destroyed plantations. He said that several women and animals suffered multiple miscarriages because of the blasts.
He noted that the company’s contract of extracting stones ended on August 23, 2021, but they have continued extracting stones to date without compensating the residents.
Masaka high court has summoned the two companies to appear in court on Friday. Wangi, said that through Kaliba & Co. Advocates, they want the company to compensate them.
Sulaiman Mugunga, the Bukulula Sub-county councilor, says that he took the matter to the Masaka Resident District Commissioner-RDC –Caleb Tukaikiriza for redress before it’s too late.
He said that the RDC advised the residents to join efforts and fight for their rights and compensation.
In 2019, the residents held a week-long protest halting the company operations, which prompted the intervention of the local leaders and district security committee.
In a joint meeting presided over by Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, then Kalungu East MP and Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the managers and engineers of both companies promised to compensate the residents for the damages.
Ssempijja told the engineers of the two companies to compensate residents before they resume operations.
However, the engineers convinced the residents and local leaders to allow them to proceed and promised to pay later, which they have not down close to three years after.
Margaret Lakot Babirye, the Public Relations Officer of HUNA told URN that she wasn’t aware of the lawsuit and therefore could not say much about it.
Lydia Mukasa, the PRO-Arab Contractor told URN that she is aware of the lawsuit, adding that the compensation is being processed.
According to Mukasa, compensation may start in one or two weeks from now but the residents are just impatient.
She says that Arab contractors are insured by Jubilee insurance and it is their officials to compensate the affected people on their behalf after following proper guidelines.
She noted that Insurance officials visited the affected families about a month back to assess the damage and make a report before compensating the affected people.