Over 80 families affected by the oil refinery project who were set to be relocated tomorrow have resolved not to leave until government fulfills promises it made to them in the October 2012 Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) Report for the oil refinery project.
The families, whose land was part of the over 29 square kilometres that was acquired by government in 2012 for Uganda’s proposed oil refinery, were set to be relocated from Kabaale-Buseruka to Kyakaboga, Hoima district.
The function was to be presided over by high-level officials from the Ministries of Energy, Lands and other government agencies, but in a meeting held yesterday at Nyahaira Primary School in Hoima district, the affected families unanimously resolved not to relocate to Kyakaboga unless they are given land titles, and provided with electricity, water sources and access roads as promised in the RAP report.
The meeting was also attended by Ministry of Energy officials including a representative from the Directorate of Petroleum, the sub-county leadership, police and the refinery-affected people. Pleas by the Energy ministry officials to have residents reconsider the above conditions fell on deaf ears, and the meeting turned riotous when the officials insisted on having a separate meeting with the group leaders.
The families said they no longer trusted government and particularly the Ministry of Energy as it has broken promises on several occasions and ignored calls to include the local people’s input into the relocation exercise.
In the RAP report, the Ministry committed that it would provide each of the persons who opted for physical relocation with land identified and houses on a case-by-case basis in the neighbourhood of the refinery area.
“The Ministry further committed that it would conduct a livelihood restoration exercise that would involve supporting families with grants for farming and business,” Mr. Christopher Opio, the Secretary to the Oil Residents Refinery Association (ORRA), says while quoting commitments listed in the refinery project’s 2012 RAP report.
He adds: “Only 46, out of 83 families are getting houses contrary to commitments in the RAP. In addition, land was not identified on a case-by-case basis and a special settlement, which the [refinery-affected] people have consistently rejected because it does not meet their socio-economic and cultural needs, was set up. Families are also yet to get their land titles. Without land titles, they cannot be assured that the property government wants to hand over this Thursday is theirs.”
At a May 25, 2017 meeting with the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), the affected families said that while the UHRC had taken the initiative to address their concerns by organising the meeting with the Ministry of Energy , it was tipped in favour of the latter.
“We presented our grievances and pointed out how best they could be addressed in a manner that taxpayers’ money would be saved. However, at their own discretion and with little regard for our requests, the Ministry of Energy directed on how it would address our concerns. This angered us,” Mr. Opio notes.
Some of concerns the affected people say were not addressed by government include; failure to buy land on a case-by-case basis, failure to provide land titles for all the families, failure to provide houses for over 47 families then that opted for physical and failure to compensate the over 20 families that rejected low compensation.
The Ministry of Energy officials said that they would process and provide the land titles in two months from tomorrow, the day of resettlement but the group has refused to listen to the officials’ promises.
The meeting ended with the families vowing that they will not participate in the handover ceremony of the houses. They also said that they would not relocate until government fulfills its promises as captured in the refinery project’s RAP report.