Locals To Sue Gov’t Over Refinery

Jennifer Makune lives in Kabaale village not far from the shores of Lake Albert
Jennifer Makune lives in Kabaale village not far from the shores of Lake Albert

People affected by the imminent construction of a refinery in Hoima district are planning to sue government over what the call unfair compensation.

This has come after the complainants failed to get redress from the different institutions they have petitioned, the latest being the January 31st petition to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Energy Kabagambe Kaliisa.

The complainants say that the compensation rates offered have been inadequate, unrealistic and inconsistent with the Land Act. The residents also accuse government of not consulting them and of giving them outdated rates that don’t resonate with the current market prices.

The group of people that did not agree with the offered rates and those that opted for resettlement are the ones that have threatened to go to court. The first group of people did not sign on the consent paper saying that the rates were inadequate to facilitate their resettlement.

They accuse governments of failing to attend to their complaints which they say should be done through consultation with the village representatives. The group that opted for resettlement says government has made them live in speculation and anxiety by failing to relocate them in time.

They said government gave them June 2012 as the cut-off date and that they have not been allowed to set up permanent structures or grow any perennial crops on their land since then. They say that they have run out of what to eat because they are not cultivating and that their children no longer go to school because the parents think they will be moving anytime.

One of the complainants, Chris Opiyo, who opted for resettlement, says his family has lived in anxiety for the last two years over where or when they will be resettled.

But Sheema district woman MP, Rosemary Nyakikongoro, who tabled a petition in parliament on behalf of the complainants, says that government is in the process of procuring land. She said that government procurement is a long process but added that an advert to acquire land has already been put out.Refinery

But Opiyo thinks 70 households that opted for resettlement are too few for government to take more than two years acquiring for them land. He says even one village would be enough for them to be resettled and they start afresh with their lives.

Nyakikongoro says the residents who are saying that they were stopped from cultivating are lying because government assured them that they can still be using their land until they are finally resettled. She adds that government has encouraged dialogue and that the residents who are complaining about the rates were encouraged to propose their own valuer to reach an agreeable amount.

Government earmarked 29 square kilometres of land in Kabale in Hoima district for the construction of the oil refinery.

More than 7000  people from 13 villages of Nyahaira, Kyapaloni, Kitegwa, Bukona ‘A’ and ‘B’, Nyamasoga, Kayera, Kab, Kigaga, Katoke, Kijumba, Kabaate trading centre and Nyakasenene were affected but many of them feel cheated by government as far as compensation is concerned.

In a document written to the Attorney General, the over 100 residents say they have given government 14 days to address their concerns or else they seek legal redress in courts of law.

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