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Unfair compensation claims, lack of institutional coordination costing the nation - MPs

Unfair compensation claims, lack of institutional coordination costing the nation - MPs

The lack of clear compensation payment mechanisms for evacuees, absence of institutional oversight and coordination for the construction of infrastructure projects in various parts of the country is costing the nation dearly, Officials said on Wednesday.

Members of Parliament expressed their concerns over the ongoing redundant demolition and construction of infrastructure without any prior consultations.

The institutions implicated in the lack of coordination are the road authority, electricity utility, water and sanitary, and ethio-telecom among others.

In a bid to alleviate this problem, the Federal Integrated Infrastructure Development Agency was established eight years ago to accelerate the economic and social development of the country by coordinating infrastructure construction institutions prior to project launches.

The Agency Director, Almaw Mengiste, presented a report over what he called unmanageable trends of lack of institutional coordination and minimum communication, before and after undertaking projects throughout the nation.

In a discussion that featured members of the Urban Development and Construction Standing Committee of the Parliament, Speaker of the House (Tagesse Chafo), and other high ranking government officials, the director mentioned inconsistent and exaggerated compensation, excessive delays of projects, infrastructure cuts and breaks were a persistent and enduring problem which demanded prompt solution.

Almaw called on the government to address the redundant irregularities and waste of resources due to mismanagement of institutions. 

In addition, he requested the parliament to set up a mechanism to evaluate the level of institutional coordination among government institutions, to formulate coordination guidelines and establish a national integration master plan.

For his part, the Ethiopian Roads Authority Director, Habtamu Tegegn (Eng.) described the problems which various projects exhibit as far beyond coordination.

Habtamu further indicated that the defiant positions taken by officials at regional and lower tiers of government to abide by federal laws and ungovernable behaviors of individuals have made it difficult.

According to him, projects being implemented by the federal government have reached a critical stage, indicating the compensation required in some areas is higher than the initially planned total cost of the project.

Despite the fact that the Compensation Proclamation has been approved, similar compensation is still not being given to similar properties, said Habtamu, demanding the House monitor the implementation of the law enacted by Parliament.

Currently, said the director, there are over 300 road projects under construction; the challenges ahead to finalize these projects are immense as long as officials and individuals request inflated amounts of money as compensation.

Ethiopia paid four billion birr in compensation in the 2019/20 fiscal year. The amount of compensation to be paid during the existing financial year might surge up to nine billion birr, said Habtamu. He added: “If the current situation continues, the country will not be able to build roads with its limited resources.”

He further asked the parliament to revise the law used in allocating road projects to regional governments as it would help ensure better management and control.

The Minister of Urban Development and Construction, Aisha Mohammed (Eng.), said a better change could be achieved if parliament closely monitored the problem.

She went on to say that a guideline is being prepared to determine the compensation for property nationally via a single valuation system to eliminate the varying value of compensation for evacuees.

Furthermore, Ashenafi Gaami, Chairperson for Urban Development Construction and Transport Affairs Standing Committee, asked federal officials to stop bargaining with regional authorities if they are not cooperative.

He advised them to stop the project until these regional officials settle barriers of entry to build the project for public benefit.