By Jehosophat Sembera
The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) will conduct a national wide boundary marking for electricity transmission corridors also known as wayleaves.
This is aimed at protecting the land from encroachment and is expected to commence in the next two months after evaluation and screening of bidders is concluded by UETCL.
“We have issued several warnings to settlers in our transmission lines perimeters and some claim not to be aware of the demarcations. The boundaries will be setup as indicators to all encroachers,” said Kenneth Otim, a senior public relations officer at UETCL in an interview with Kampala Post on Thursday at the headquarters in Kampala.
Otim added that after conclusion of the boundary marking exercise, the electricity body will destroy and evict all developments in the transmission lines. He said encroachers on wayleaves corridors have denied UETCL access for routine maintenance works through construction of settlements and cultivation.
He warned Ugandans from acquiring land in wayleaves adding, people having houses, markets and crops under power lines are at risk of losing their investments.
What is a Wayleave?
A wayleave is a right of way granted by the land or property owner for development including erection and laying of power lines, rail line, highway roads, water mains, sewers, telephone cables or digging a footpath.
Otim says a wayleave corridor is defined by a particular radius from the center of the high voltage transmission power line.
That radius is supposed to be clear of any activity to ensure safety of life and property of people and it eases accessibility by UETCL while carrying out maintenance works.
The wayleave corridor measures 7m, 15m, 20m, or 30m on either side from the center of the power lines, for 66kV, 132kV, 220kV and 400kV transmission lines respectively.
On the question of compensation, Otim noted that there will be no compensations for properties that were established before the Uganda Constitution amendment in 1995, since government had control over land to provide services like roads, electricity distribution on it.
Before 1995, the Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) was responsible for electricity distribution and Otim stressed that they only compensated damaged crops, homes but not the land. He added that the amendment of the Constitution in 1995 gave land powers to individuals and requires compensation of land, crops, and settlements to land owners before electricity lines are raised.
“We have new power lines in the country that connect from Bujagali, Karuma and Isimba electricity dams and we ensure that all affected persons are compensated before any work is conducted on the land,” he said.
The Electricity Act 1999 prohibits any person from building or setting up development next to electricity lines or between electricity installations.
However, the Principal public relations officer of UETCL Pamela Nalwanga explained that people may carry out cereal crops growing in the wayleaves if they seek permission from the electricity body.
“We only allow beans that do not grow tall in height but this should be done after the 5m right of way corridor.” She explained. However, sugar cane, trees, and banana plantations and other related crops that grow taller are strictly prohibited from power line corridors.