HoimaBuliisa- Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Godfrey Nyakahuma has asked the government to negotiate with local residents who rejected compensation for their land earmarked for construction of an oil refinery.
More than 100 residents of Kabaale parish in Buseruka Sub-county sued the government for allegedly undervaluing their property.
The case where the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), an oil aocacy NGO, is a co-plaintiff, is still before the High Court in Kampala.
Addressing about 300 residents at Kabaale Primary School in a meeting attended by Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Nyakahuma said: “We do not want the refinery and other oil projects to be delayed due to complaints from people affected by the projects. I propose that government institutes a mediation committee to dialogue with those who have grievances so that the projects are not bogged down by complaints.”
Buseruka Sub-county chairman Fred Kasangaki said the leaders and residents were excited when government announced plans to set up an oil refinery in the area. He, however, said the process of compensation had left many residents aggrieved.
Mr Kasangaki said some families had received compensation and have relocated while others accepted compensation but government has not paid them.
Mr Nyakahuma told the minister that his office had received complaints from residents who claim the government surveyors mapped less land than they own.
“In that case I suggest that government re-surveys the properties of those with such grievances,” he said.
The refinery compensations were undertaken by Strategic Friends International which was contracted by the Energy ministry to implement the Resettlement Action Plan.
Mr Tom Mpabaisi, a resident of Kitegwa village, said the compensation range of between Shs3.5m and Shs4.5m for each acre is too low.
Ms Okurut pledged government commitment to address the residents’ grievances.
“We are not interested in seeing you shedding tears. Government will address your concerns,” Ms Okurut said.
Okurut addressed Hoima and Buliisa district leaders and interacted with communities in the oil exploration areas. She said some women told her that when their husbands received compensation from the oil companies, they abandoned them.
She aised men to involve their spouses in planning and investing the compensation proceeds.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor