Pastoralists are yet to vacate the refinery land in Hoima even after expiry of the February 28th ultimatum given to them.
The Office of Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC) issued the ultimatum following a February 18 letter by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy directing Hoima RDC to push the pastoralists out of the refinery land.
The pastoralists whose origin and number remains unclear to date, invaded the refinery land in December last year on learning that government had started compensating the original occupants to vacate and give room to the refinery construction process.
In an interview, Hoima RDC Godfrey Nyakahuma said despite the ultimatum expiry, only pastoralists in Nyamasoga had left. He says those in Bukona A and B villages have refused to leave.
RDC Nyakahuma says a security meeting on Tuesday last week resolved that policemen be deployed at the three villages. He says the policemen will not forcefully evict the pastoralists in the meantime but security believes their presence will scare them away. Nyakahuma says however, force may be applied if the herdsmen fail to voluntarily vacate.
The Ministry of Energy in January started compensating the refinery affected persons in 13 villages in Kabaale parish, Buseruka Sub County.The affected villages are Nyahaira, Kyapaloni, Kitegwa, Bukona ‘A’ and ‘B’, Nyamasoga, Kayera, Kab, Kigaaga, Katooke, Kijumba, Kabaate trading centre and Nyakasinina.
Although some of the compensated persons have started vacating the area, many of them have not yet gone. The pastoralists’ invasion was breeding discontent as they grazed their animals in the original occupants’ crop gardens. Majority of the original occupants are farmers.
Bashir Hangi, the communication officer Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of Ministry of Energy in charge refinery, says all the ministry wants is the pastoralists to leave the area peacefully.
Government started acquiring the 29square kilometre refinery land in Kabaale about two years ago. The refinery is meant to refine Uganda’s crude oil into finished petroleum products.