PAKWACH. A section of women in Wadelai sub county who earn their livelihood from stone quarrying want the government to offer them alternative source economic activity before ordering them to abandon the site they have occupied for ages.

The Pakwach district water department wants the women to vacate Ojigo hill which harbours the main water tank reservoir supplying the entire Wadelai community with water under the Alwi dry water corridor project.

The team from Pakwach district water department also accused the women of depleting the environment and endangering the line that carries water to the tank on the hilltop of Ojigo.

Officials said the move would act as an intervention mechanism to conserve the environment and save the tank from future calamities but the women don’t buy the initiative without an alternative solution to their plight.

According to Ms Janet Owech, a representative of the women, the abrupt decision to order the over sixty women and youths out of the area is detrimental to their livelihood whose family members depend on the income derived from the work to meet all their basic needs.

"We have already drafted our petition to support our refusal to be vacated from here without assistance, how shall we feed and meet our daily needs, we are going to write a letter indicating our refusal", she said.

The group also accused the district officials of for long sidelining them from other government intervention projects like operation wealth creation which would have changed their lives.

Quarry

Mr Kennedy Oketha, also a member of the quarry group said the government should instead consider adding value to what they are doing instead of chasing them away.

"Our leaders need to work closely with us instead of expelling us from here because we have occupied this place for a while and this activity is beyond misuse of the environment, our stand is, let them give us alternative work then we leave", he said.

He suggested that the quarry hill be handed to the administrative unit of the group for effective management.

However, Mr Ben Owing, the area male councilor who promised to arbitrate between the aggrieved community urged the members to hand their complaints in written for easy documentation and follow up at the district.

He said a dialogue between the community and the district officials to forge a way forward and to quell the standoff has instead created more fear among the community.

Owing urged the members to form a formidable association to ease the advancement of government support like the Emyooga and channeling feedback.

The Pakwach district and parts of Madi Okollo depend on quarry stones at Ojigo hill for constructions and a sudden suspension of the activities may affect the communities in terms of daily household income.