ADJUMANI. The dispute between Utukulu Company limited and STRABAG, an international construction company over a quarry site has been resolved.
Strabag won the bid to upgrade the 66km Atiak – Umi road from the government of Uganda but the controversy that started in November last year over ownership of the quarry site whose resources would be used as construction material delayed the project.
The controversy arose when Utukulu claimed it owned the rocks located at Ujigo and that it had secured an exploration licence, they then made an exorbitant demand to strubag if they were interested but Strabag declined and instead petitioned the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
According to the CAO Adjumani Mr Jack Byaruhanga, Utukulu Company limited and STRABAG have now signed a memorandum of understanding to allow the construction go ahead.
He however did not disclose the content of the memorandum of understanding stating that they were not part of the negotiations.
Byaruhanga also said the development comes after his letter dated December 14 2020 to the ministry of energy and mineral development seeking guidance and clarifications on how to operate a rock quarry to produce road construction material.
In response to the CAOs letter by the permanent secretary ministry of energy and mineral development Mr Emmanuel Mugunga, the Ugandan constitution vests the control of minerals into the government of Uganda.
“Article 244 of the constitution of the republic of Uganda vests the control of minerals in the government on behalf of Ugandans. It defines minerals to exclude any stone commonly used for building or similar purpose”, the letter reads in part.
The current mining act 2003 provides that the definition of minerals does not include stones.
The letter further states that, “We note that, the proposed quarry site is within the area under exploration licence EL 1953 held by M/S Utukulu limited for the exploration of granite in an area of 293.4sq kms in Adjumani district. It is necessary to note that the law confers some restrictions on the exercise of an EL. EL does not confer the right to mine or undertake quarry operations. The mining operations can only be undertaken when exploration has been done”.
Mr James Leku Pili, the district chairman Adjumani however said he is happy that the road construction company has been given the go ahead to construct the Atiak Umi road.