My name is Christopher Opio, a resident of Kyapaloni village, Kabaale parish, Buseruka sub-county, Hoima district.
My village is one of the 17 from which government compulsorily acquired land beginning in June 2012 to be able to construct Uganda’s oil refinery.
We are a largely communal society that addresses challenges together and when the process of acquiring our land began, we formed a group called the Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA) to address challenges we would face due to the compulsory land acquisition.
I am the general secretary of this association, and I am writing this letter on ORRA’s behalf. Recently, we, leaders of ORRA, saw media reports in which the state minister for planning, David Bahati, was defending a government budget request for the proposed Kabaale international airport.
The minister said government wanted to start doing some work to prepare for construction of the proposed airport, which will be located on the land government acquired from us. When we saw this news, the 83 and 27 families which government is yet to relocate and compensate respectively started worrying. Why?
Having experienced government’s approach to compulsory land acquisition processes, we know that allowing it to begin work for the airport will create panic in the 27 families which justly refused the low compensation government offered them.
Forcing poor communities to accept low compensation should be a concern for all Ugandans because community members end up becoming vagabonds or putting pressure on the environment by settling in wetlands, along river banks and on the margins of forests.
Eventually, degradation of the environment by these communities will affect all Ugandans in the form of reduced rainfall and, therefore, reduced food. The families which are yet to be resettled also expressed worry because previous activities by contractors for the proposed Kabaale airport saw people’s gardens being destroyed.
Last year was a hard one for Ugandans as far as food is concerned and we were protective of our crops but the con- tractors destroyed them and did not compensate us!
Our appeal, therefore, is that government compensates and relocates us before using our land for the proposed airport. It is only fair for one cannot take possession of and use land that they have not fully paid for.
The ministry of energy must meet with us and tell us its strategies for relocating and compensating us before work for the proposed airport begins.
Handle teacher promotions carefully
I applaud education minister Janet Museveni for weighing in on delayed teachers’ promotions.
This has been a longstanding story where a teacher with all the required qualifications and experience applies for promotion and is turned down by the Education Service Commission and ministry of education.
The situation becomes even more interesting when a young teacher, taught by this rejected teacher and with no experience, is promoted because he has a ‘big brother’ at the ministry/government. He is then posted to a school where his former teacher is teaching and becomes his boss.
This is a terrible psychological problem that points to our poor manpower planning and staff development where teachers retire after thirty years of dedicated service without promotion!
In the olden days, school head teachers used to identify prospective teachers and forward them to the Education Service Commission to be promoted automatically. There was no corruption at the time because head teachers were men and women of integrity.
The head teachers also used to work away from their home areas to reduce on tribalism and favouritism. The minister asked Uganda National Teachers’ Union leaders to provide the list of teachers who have not been promoted over the years.
I don’t think Unatu can do this without falling into the same trap of sectarianism. The personnel department of the ministry should have the biodata of all teachers and do the needful.
Fast-track Kiswahili as national language
Government should consider fast- tracking the teaching of Kiswahili in our quest to enhance economic integration in the East African region.
It is a truism that the language is being taught in schools and higher institutions of learning but regrettably used in daily speech. Kiswahili should go beyond classrooms where it is learned for marks and become a major communication tool.
The recent drama noticed during the this year’s Labour day celebrations in Pallisa is a case in point where the president had to get interpreters in Ateso and Lugwere, consequently taking more time in dissemination of his message to both the local and national population.
The interpreters tried their best in vain, prompting the president to ask for another Lugwere interpreter, bringing to the fore the fact that many Ugandans elites are only competent in English, and not their mother tongues.
The time is now that Kiswahili should be given a day when it is to be spoken in all government and private sector institutions’ offices so that we perfect it.
Samuel Mweru Byachi,
Do you want to leave a legacy?
People who leave a legacy are not only respected while still alive but even when they are gone. When you reach cemetries, there are graves which are not cemented, those that are cemented, those that are tiled and others that are under a shade.
This is not a coincidence but, rather, because of one’s legacy. When I recently went to Buikwe district, I stumbled on the grave of the late Prince Job Paul Kafeero cemented and under a shade.
The same can be said of Livingstone Kasozi in Masaka. These people left a legacy in Uganda’s music sector. They were popular musicians in an era where message superseded fame and money.
Their music still plays and attracts audience from bother the young and the old. Can this be said of most of the new crop of musicians? What legacy will they leave?
For you to leave a legacy in life, start by defining your purpose. Write it clearly and define plans and actions to take in order to accomplish it.
Your purpose is what you want your life to represent here on earth. All successful people such as politicians, authors, business- men, musicians, athletes and others started by defining their purpose and took possible actions to attain it.
I have met many people and asked them their purpose in life and they have no answer. Decide not to be among those ones.