Oil exploration workers in Albertine region of Uganda

The Ministry of Energy and the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFEIGO), a non-governmental organisation based in Kampala are involved in counter accusations as the ministry today commissions the relocation of oil refinery affected families from Kabaaale-Buseruka to Kyakaboga, Hoima District.

Yesterday The Eagle Online published a story in which the General Secretary of the Oil Residents Refinery Association (ORRA), Christopher Opio and AFIEGO’s Senior Communications Officer Diana Nabiruma, confirmed that the refinery affected households in Hoima district had told government officials on Tuesday that they wouldn’t move from the area unless government fulfills all its pledges it made to them in October 2012 Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) Report for the oil refinery project.

Some of 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 today from Kabaale-Buseruka to Kyakaboga village in an operation led by officials  from ministries of Energy and Lands alongside other government agencies.
“In a meeting held today August 8, 2017 at Nyahaira P/S in Hoima district the over 80 families unanimously  resolved that unless government provides them with land titles, electricity, water sources and access roads as promised in the RAP report, they will not allow to be relocated to Kyakaboga on Thursday,” Opio was quoted as saying in a press release published by AFIEGO two days ago.

However, going by the latest communication from the Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Dr Stephen Isabalija the relocation will go on today as planned.
“On Thursday 10th August 2017, the Ministry will commission the relocation process which involves agreeing with the PAPs (project affected people) on a programme for each household to be resettled. it is therefore not true that they are all expected to relocate on the day of the commissioning. Some households are already cultivating their land and would therefore be better off once relocated,” Dr Isabalija says.

Dr Isabalija says leaders of the affected familes during the August 8 meeting barred the locals from airing out their views, yet on the other hand, Opio and Nabiruma in a letter to the media accuse the ministry officials of trying to engage only representatives of the people, which they say almost resulted into chaos.

“The ministry and subcounty chiefs were interested in hearing the views and concerns from PAPs, however some of their leaders barred them from speaking,” Dr Isabalija says.

The meeting on Tuesday 8 was attended by Ms Maureen Wadiyo (Community Liaison Officer Oil and Gas in the Ministry of Health), Mr Stephen Enachi (Petroleum Exploration Directorate, LC3 Chairperon for Buseruka Subcounty Ali Tinkamanyire and representatives from AFIEGO.

Despite AFIEGO’s that government has not prepared the relocation areas, Dr Isabalija says government is providing seedlings and food for the next six months, including bringing the skills development programme expected to run for six months to one year.
“Individual land titles are being processed,” says the Permanent Secretary, confirming that the consolidated land title of the relocation area has been obtained. One of the issues the families are said to have raised for not wanting to relocate was the issue of individual land titles to guarantee security of tenancy for their households.

Dr Isabalija says government says the relocation area is not isolated as claimed by AFIEGO and leaders of the affected families, saying other communities exist nearby. Government he says, has provided each household to be relocated a with 500-litre water tank, wired houses as it prepares to connect them to electricity, with further promise that it would build more infrastructure to ease the lives of the new occupants Kyakaboga village.
The PS has castigated AFIEGO, saying the NGO doesn’t represent the views of the families to be relocated. He further accused the organisation of trying earlier on to relocate residents to Kyakaboga “amid allegations of delays by government” and wonders why AFIEGO is now inciting people not to relocate.

“We would also wish to confirm that PAPs are willing and eager to be relocated and the commissioning programme is going on as scheduled at the resettlement area,” he says of the 73 households much as AFIEGO in a press release says they are over 80 families to be relocated.

However, it should be noted that the Land  Acquisition  and Resettlement Framework (LARF) exists which is supposed to provide a guide to land acquisition in the Albertine Graben for Oil and Gas  activities.
LARF emphasizes that land acquisition may result into displacement of people and as a result it is important for authorities to prepare adequately to address the issues of relocation and compensation of the affected peoples.

The cost of the refinery is estimated to be US$4.3 billion, with 70 percent of that amount to be borrowed and the remaining 30 percent coming from shareholders.
With the capacity to process 30,000 barrels per day, the refinery is planned for commissioning in 2020, with government sure it will bring many economic opportunities to the country.