By Simon Turibamwe
When oil was discovered in Uganda especially in lake albert, Uganda government was quick to say that it’s a fortune for all Ugandans, but this is not the case for residents who were affected by the refinery in Kabaale Hoima district. Kabaale residents regret living like refugees in what used to be their cradle land after they were evicted in favor of Oil refinery. Under their umbrella of Oil Refinery Residents Association, says that they were forced to go to court over delays and under compensation on top of forced eviction but they are now facing a bigger challenge in an anticipated second eviction from Kyakaboga-Buseruuka where it has come to their attention that they were settled on a disputed land. They said that with such a life they are living in, they cannot appreciate discovery of oil in the area because it has brought suffering. The said residents have continued appealing to courts of law for an expedited hearing of the case they brought against government in 2014 over delayed and under-compensation so that it is disposed and they begin a new chapter. Their Secretary Mr Christopher Opio, said that after the 73 families refused to vacate citing under-compensation, the government forced them to Kyakaboga-Buseruka camp where it had bought land but two years later the same land is being claimed by Tulinde Veterans Association in Hoima.
“When Ministry of Energy displaced us from Kabaale and forced us into a camp settlement at Kyakaboga-Buseruka in December 2017, we hoped that the land belonged to the government because we were told that it was bought from two businessmen and also promised to give us land titles. Shockingly we are again being asked to find our way out because this land is in dispute,” said Opio. He said that the only worry is that his group is now considered trespassing on the disputed land and may be forced out at any time yet they are trying to settle. Mr Innocent Tumwebaze, the ORRA chairperson says that, it’s only the expedited hearing that will end everything since once court concludes to their favor they will engage Ministry of Energy to give them land titles to own the settlement. Mr Dickens Kamugisha, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), says government wastes taxpayers’ money when it fails to undertake due diligence and buys disputed land. He noted that Over Shs 70bn for the refinery project was budgeted and Ugandans hoped that this money would be well spent but a big sum of it was spent on buying disputed land. Kamugisha noted that: “when you see government failing to give the refinery-affected people their land titles for over five years and other people claiming ownership of the land given to the people, you know that the vice of corruption is destroying this country. We hope that court will be part of the solution of stopping the impunity and pain Ministry of Energy has caused the refinery-affected people.” AFIEGO which is a none governmental organization operating within the Albertine region is known for rights of people affected by oil refinery. Recently residents of Katwe Kabatooro in Kasese district were petitioning AFIEGO showcasing their dissatisfaction with oil refinery. For Comments, call or text us on 0752510225