By Fred Kiva, Hoima
Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a public policy research and advocacy Non-Governmental Organization, dedicated to influencing energy policies to benefit the poor and vulnerable has insisted that government must stick to and fulfill its promises to persons affected by the oil refinery project in Kabaale village, Buseruka Sub County, Hoima district.
This is contained in the August 14, press statement in response to government threats to crackdown on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) accused of inciting residents against the refinery project.
On Thursday last week, during handover of 46 houses constructed for some of the refinery affected persons in Kyakaboga village, State Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Eng. Simon D’ujanga directed for the arrest of NGO officials he accused of mobilizing the project affected people to reject the resettlement houses.
The Minister’s directive followed a speech from Deus Turyamuhika, the representative of the affected persons during the event, saying that they (the affected persons) would not take up the houses because the government had not availed them land titles as promised in 2012 during their land acquisition process.
The Project affected persons also questioned the lack of water and electricity connections to the resettlement area and above all the road leading to their new homes in Kyakaboga was not done to the required standard.
In response, Minister D’ujanga revealed that government was in final stages of processing individual titles for plots of land in the resettlement area, while water and electricity would also be connected to the site soon. The Minister also implored residents to be utilizing Buseruka Health centre III which has been refurbished by Ministry of Energy.
The Minister later turned his anger towards Civil Society and other Non-Governmental organizations operating in the area, blaming them for having mobilized residents to decline the resettlement houses. He said this was in sabotage of the refinery project and government would not accept it.
He directed the security personnel to investigate and arrest the culprits.
"We don't want anybody to sabotage the ongoing refinery project and whoever mobilizes the community around to oppose the project will face the wrath of the law”, the Minister emphasised.
However, AFIEGO has hit back at government for defaulting on its promises made to the affected people during their land acquisition in 2012.
“The government officials who are threatening AFIEGO are the same people who defaulted on government’s promises to provide the following to each of the households which opted for relocation: (i) Never to put the affected people in a special settlement but buy land for each household on a case by case basis; (ii) Provide land titles for each household to be relocated. (iii) Build a house for each of the affected households. (iv) Provide electricity, water, roads and other basic needs to the affected people. Due to the broken promises, some of the people who had opted for relocation have since then demanded and changed to cash compensation after five years of waiting,” said AFIEGO in the statement signed by Diana Nabiruma, the organisation’s Senior Communications Officer.
Government acquired the 29.57 square kilometer piece of land in Kabaale for construction of an oil refinery in 2012. Despite the fact that the affected communities were since barred from growing perennial crops on the land, they have had to wait five years later for relocation to Kyakaboga, an area adjacent to the refinery land.
The 46 are part of the 93 project affected households that preferred relocation. Government has since maintained that the remaining households could not be built houses because they did not lose houses in the affected land.