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People displaced by Sudanese dam project complain of poverty, unemployment

February 1 - 2017 EL GEDAREF
File photo: The Setit dam under construction
File photo: The Setit dam under construction

Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir is due to inaugurate the first turbine of the Upper Atbara-Setit Dam Complex in El Gedaref state on Thursday, but those displaced by the project complain of poverty and unemployment.

Thursday’s inauguration marks the start of operation of the first of four turbines, which will be capable of generating 80 megawatts. The project will ultimately be able to generate 320 megawatts, according to Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.

Al Bashir will also address the mass rally of El Gedaref and Kassala States in front of the turbine station at the dam premises, and will chair a meeting of the Federal Cabinet at the dam complex, according to the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA).

However on the eve of the inauguration, representatives of the 30,000 families displaced by the project of Atbara and Setit complain of high rates of unemployment and poverty among them because of the government’s non-commitment to compensate the damages to farmlands.

Several displaced people expressed dissatisfaction to Radio Dabanga, saying that the government id disavowing of the promises it made with regard to the compensation for housing, agricultural land and plantations. They bemoan the deterioration of roads and health services in the villages of the dam, this as well as the failure to provide electricity services to a number of villages.

Memorandum

The displaced plan to hand over a memorandum containing their grievances to the President when he visits the complex on Thursday.

Abdelkarim Mohamed Saleh, a youth leader of Atbara and Setit, told Radio Dabanga that the administration of the dams has failed to compensate the farmers for the agricultural land estimated at 11,000 acres confiscated for the resettlement of those affected.

He said that there was only temporary compensation for a limited number of farmers in El Beja project which is estimated at 3,000 acres.

He harshly criticised the arbitration jury formed by the Ministry of Justice over its refusal to consider the compensation for agricultural land under the pretext they are private residential sectors.

He explained that a number of the villages affected by the dam were not included in the decision, such as Kuna Zuberma inhabited by about 650 families and parts of Wad Alhalio and Safawa.

He explained that the administration of the dams has ignored the housing compensation for young people who are married and pointed to the social effects of the negative consequences.


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