Investors claim compensation for property damage amid Oromia riots

Local and foreign investors asked the Ethiopian government to pay them compensation for lost properties amid the public riot in the Oromia Regional State.

Informed sources told The Reporter that local and foreign investors whose properties were damaged during the public riots incited in the Oromia Regional State in connection with the planned Integrated Masterplan of Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone last November filed their compensation claims to the Office of the Prime Minister. According to sources, the government has–in principle–agreed to compensate the companies who lost their properties in the violent public riots that have been going on since November 2015.

Sources said that after reviewing the compensation claims filed by the local and foreign companies the Office of the Prime Minister remanded the case to the Ethiopian Investment Commission. The PM's Office ordered the Ethiopian Investment Commission to evaluate the compensation claims by collaborating with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Development Bank of Ethiopia–the entity which provided loans to the investment projects.

“The government wants to make sure that the compensation claims are valid. Some of the claims could be exaggerated so they want to clear that,” sources said.

An official at the Ethiopian Investment Commission has confirmed that the commission is working on the compensation claims. The official said that since the case is a national issue that needs maximum care it is being over seen by the board of directors of the Ethiopian Investment Commission. According to the official, some 14 companies have filed for compensation but the total amount of compensation payment they demanded is not yet known. “They are working on it. They are trying to verify the claims. The amount is not yet determined but the government is committed to pay compensations for the lost properties,” he said. 

The official said the Ethiopian Investment Commission is also working closely with the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation (EIC). “EIC was asked to estimate the property damages incurred and how much of the properties were covered by insurance policy and those that were not covered by insurance policy. Since Ethiopia is considered as a safe country the investors did not have insurance policy for property damage that might be caused by conflict or social unrest,” the official said. He said that the government has a firm commitment to compensate the investors.

More than 140 people have lost their lives in the riots fomented in different towns of Oromia since last November. Factories, flower farms, and trucks that belong to private companies have been burnt down. Residential houses, police stations and government administration offices have been ransacked. 

Speaking to the Ethiopian parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said that the government needed to listen to the grievances of the people. Hailemariam blamed the deaths and destruction of property in the protests of unnamed “anti-peace forces,” which he said had hijacked the protesters’ legitimate concerns. The PM also claimed that the problems in Oromia were the “direct results of unresponsiveness and unemployment.” The Prime Minister on behalf of his government apologized for the lost lives and property in the riots.    

Though the Addis Ababa expansion plans were dropped the riots have continued to rock Oromia towns.