PAKWACH. Locals in Pakwach district have expressed fear over the social impact of grid extension to the West Nile region ahead of the scheduled works.
Locals are worried that the new arrivals that are coming to work for the project may lure their young girls and women into sex leading to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies since they will be financially stable compared to the locals.
The concerns were raised during a meeting over the weekend between sub county chairpersons where the lines will pass, officials from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company and ministry of energy and mineral development in Pakwach town council.
According to Mr Robert Odia, the Alwi sub county chairperson, streamlining proper mechanisms with instant feedback like compulsory registration of the contract workers by village chairpersons with their National identity card, having specified camps to all the workers should be adopted.
"We want continuous orientation to create awareness among the people, locals here are worried that their women will desert them in favour of our brothers with charm of money, let us not make them look at this project as a disaster in their lives", Odia said.
He added that other negative impacts like child labour and sexual violence should be handled by building the capacity of the police and cultural leaders to handle such issues.
Other speakers said previous projects led to the spread of HIV/Aids in the district and left many child mothers with children whose fathers cannot be traced.
Mr Stephen Wakonga, the town clerk Pakwach town council observed that it would be absurd that the electricity project is responsible for escalating social issues and rendering the community in panic than tapping on opportunities in the electricity sector.
"Electricity should enhance business among our people but this fear should not be taken for granted, let us all do the necessary legal requirements to quell those concerns", he stressed.
But Mr Noel Komunda, a gender specialist from the ministry of Energy and Mineral development said they have developed ways of reporting such cases to local councils, established a desk where cases will be reported and feedback received by stakeholders.
He said such cases are highly condemned and may lead to the termination of the project by the World Bank which is strict on moral issues.
"We have mechanisms of reporting, in an event of abuse by our contract workers, report the case within 72 hours if you delay and our funders find out, they may take interest and this may turn out to be dangerous" he said.
He continued, "You the village chairpersons, you will be very helpful, document every complaint for easy management, let us help our community and the project not to suffer setbacks", he added.