The Request pertains to four interlinked issues. First, the Requesters claim that the project planned to use Oruja Rock, a large rock located in their community, as a stone quarry for the rehabilitation of the Tororo-Kamdini Road. They allege that the valuation of Oruja Rock was not done properly, they were coerced into signing 10-year lease agreements, and the compensation is insufficient. Secondly, they allege that their crops, trees and structures were destroyed as part of an involuntary resettlement process in the buffer zone surrounding Oruja Rock. This process had been initiated without prior notice or adequate compensation for their losses, according to the Requesters. Thirdly, they raise concerns about the non-disclosure of project-related information. Finally, the Requesters raise concerns about coercion, intimidation and reprisals in relation to the issues above.
In its response, Bank management stated that some of the concerns of the project-affected persons regarding the integrity of the Oruja Rock, potential impact from the quarry operations and intimidation have been addressed, as the quarry will not be used for the project and the project contractor’s staff and equipment have been demobilized. Management also states that it informed the Uganda National Roads Authority that all works under the project will remain suspended with the exception of the emergency works along the road corridor until several issues are resolved to the Bank’s satisfaction. Management states that the Bank has made every effort to apply its policies and procedures applicable to the points raised by the Request and further states that it has asked the borrower to take specific steps to address relevant issues in line with the project loan agreement.
The Panel welcomed Bank management’s commitments to audit the compensation payments made to community members with regard to the destruction of crops and structures in the buffer zone to assess whether the community is being adequately compensated for damage incurred. The Panel also welcomed management’s strong position with regard to the allegations of coercion, intimidation and reprisals. However, the Panel stated it is not satisfied that management’s response addresses all the concerns raised by the Requesters, including 10-year lease agreements for Oruja Rock and its surrounding area that the Requesters say they signed with the project subcontractor under duress or the lack of meaningful engagement with the community. The Panel indicated it is also not satisfied with the lack of sufficient consideration to the reasons that led to the alleged harms materializing. The Panel therefore recommended carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related non-compliance with Bank policies, including on the sequencing of project-related activities as they relate to the Bank policies on Environmental Assessment, OP/BP 4.01, Involuntary Resettlement, OP/BP 4.12, and Investment Project Finance, OP/BP 10.00.
The Board approved the Panel’s recommendation to investigate on March 12, 2021. The Panel published its Investigation Plan on April 4, 2021 and conducted the investigation. Panel’s investigation focused on the harm alleged by the community members and systemic issues – such as contract management, and effective monitoring systems, and the inherent weakness associated with generic environmental and social framework documents.
Management has agreed with the borrower and consulted with the Merok community on an Action Plan, which the Board approved. The Action Plan details how the Bank will work together with UNRA to address the Panel’s findings. The Government of Uganda has confirmed its commitment to implement the Action Plan as part of continued Project implementation. The World Bank will support and supervise the implementation of the Action Plan.
On September 30, 2022, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors considered the Management Report and Recommendation and approved a Management Action Plan that respond to an independent Inspection Panel investigation of the Project. Management will report to the Board on the progress in implementing the Action Plan within six months.
Note on translation:
Translations of Inspection Panel and Management documents are unofficial and are provided as a service to interested parties. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. If any part of the translation in Kumam is inconsistent with the original text in English, the later shall govern.