6 February 2013

Uganda: Kawempe Residents Petition Parliament Over Oil Pipeline

Angry residents of Namere, Sekati and Kwata zones in Kawempe division want the government to degazette their land and compensate them for financial loss occasioned by failure to use their land over the last four years.

The land belonging to over 140 families was earmarked in 2009 for the extension of the Mombasa -Eldoret Oil Pipeline to Kampala.

In a petition to House committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday, area leaders, led by MP, Latif Ssebagala cried foul over the stalled project saying the decision to gazette their land without compensating them has financially ruined affected families.

"Our houses are in a state of disrepair because we cannot carry out any developments or repairs on property built on gazetted land," Ssekanyonyi Local Council chairperson, Henry Ssejemba said.

Gasta Ssemwanga, one of the residents said banks have turned down their loan applications because the land registry has marked their land as gazzeted.

"I used to get bank loans to educate my children using my land title as collateral. All that changed when my land got gazetted, Ssemwanga said.

Following the gazetting of their land in 2009, the ministry of energy hired a company - Geo Maps - to assess compensation for all claimants to be paid within five months.

However, residents claim ministry of energy has since kept them in the dark about how much each family will be compensated.

The estimated USD$300M project was originally awarded to the investment arm of Libyan-owned petroleum firm Tamoil in 2007.

However, the project was bedeviled by multiple delays, resulting into cancellation of the contract following the ouster of Col. Muammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Early this year, the joint coordinating commission of the project reopened the bidding process, calling for a strategic private investment partner to build the pipeline that is expected to cover a distance of 352km (220 miles).

The project is expected to have a common user depot at the pipeline terminal in Kampala and it would be developed under a 20-year Build-Own-Operate-Transfer arrangement.

Landlocked Uganda heavily relies on hauling its imported fuel products through trucks, a mode the Ugandan government has long deemed grossly untenable since it damages roads.

The multi-product pipeline with a capacity to transport oil products to and from Kampala is also in sync with Uganda government's policy of value addition to its nascent oil industry.

In Uganda, thousands of land owners in the districts of Tororo, Bugiri, Iganga, Mayuge, Mukono and Wakiso are lined up for compensation, as per Statutory Instrument No. 49.

Among these include former Premier Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, MP Jim Muhwezi, businessman Amos Nzeyi and economic monitoring minister, Henry Banyenzaki.

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