16 January 2017

Uganda: Refinery Residents to Be Relocated in February

Photo: Daily Monitor
Commercial discoveries of oil reserves have been made in a number of areas including Butiaba, Ngassa, Kaiso-Tonya and Kingfisher (file photo).

Government will in February 2017 relocate 46 families who opted for resettlement to pave way for the proposed oil refinery in Kabaale parish, Buseruka sub-county, Hoima District, Francis Elungat, the Land Acquisition officer Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has revealed.

In June 2012, government acquired a 29sq. Kilometre piece of land covering 13 villages Hoima District thus displacing 7,118 people.

The families are to be resettled on a 533-acre piece of land in Kyakabooga village in Buseruka sub-county; 3kms off Bisenyi trading centre located along Kaiso-Tonya road. Kyakabooga village is located 20 kms away from Kabaale parish.

A resettlement home that has been built in Kyakabooga village in Hoima district.

Elungat said that government will first hand over the 46 completed houses to the affected families in February and also provide food supplies to the families for the next six months.

"Each family has been promised a cow, two goats, 10 kilograms of maize seedlings, a machete, hoe and other domestic tools," he revealed, adding that these supplies are meant to sustain the families till when they will be self-reliant.

"The other 29 families that did not have houses on the land will also receive land titles of their lands in this same area," he added.

According to Elungat, each family will be allocated a piece of land the same size as the one they previously owned in the refinery area.

"We are giving a minimum of one acre even for those who had less than an acre and each resettled family will have two land titles; one for the house and another for the farmland," he noted.

Mixed feeling over house design

The completed houses seen by Oil in Uganda, will each have one sitting room, three bed-rooms, an inside bathroom and a kitchen. Outside facilities such as outside kitchen area, pit latrine and bathrooms have been provided for.

The houses will also be connected with hydroelectric power.

Government has also built a seven classroom block about 200 metres away from the resettlement village and Buseruka health centre; which is about 5 kilometres away, has been expanded and upgraded as part of the Resettlement Action Plan implementation to cater for the medical needs of the families.

Despite the houses being built in an urban-like setting, some of the families to be resettled have expressed concerns over the designs.

Ephraim Turyatunga, 47, says Government promised them a 3-bed room house which has a kitchen, toilet, a sitting room and a store.

However, looking at the houses built, Turyatunga says, the kitchen is very small and no store has been provided.

He argues that his family is comprised of 15 people who may not fit into the three bed room house.

"I stay with my father, mother and two of my married sons and their families. Will we all fit in that small house?" he questioned.

"Even the food package which government is providing for is not going to be enough to feed my family."

Warom Gura, 50 and a resident of Nyahaira village says he is no longer interested in being relocated.

"I changed my mind. I want compensation but am not sure if Government will listen to me" He told Oil in Uganda.

Gura had a semi-permanent house built of mud and wattle with an iron roof on a 13 acre piece of land where he also cultivated and reared livestock.

"That small house they are giving us in Kyakabooga will not be enough for me since I have a family of 12 people," he stated.

According to the Hoima district physical planner Robert Mwanguhya, the construction of resettlement houses delayed due to the numerous bureaucratic consultation processes between government, consultant and the project affected persons.

"Government had initially wanted to build a house in the respective land of each relocated family, but the plan was opposed by the affected families on grounds that they wanted to maintain social ties with neighbours" he said.

"We changed the plan to suit the proposals of the families. Now they are shifting goal posts but it is too late" Mwanguhya added.

According to Dennis Obbo, Ministry of Lands spokesperson, in 2015 a team of physical planners conducted a topographic survey that informed the physical planning that was participatory.

The families have waited for resettlement for over 4 years since government commenced the implementation of the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP).

Oil in Uganda has also learnt that Strategic Friends International and government officials have already briefed the refinery-affected persons about the impending relocation exercise.

Report by our Hoima Correspondent

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