By Fred Kiva
Residents affected by the oil refinery project in Kabaale parish, Buseruka Sub county, Hoima district are planning a demonstration as Uganda and Tanzania launch the East African Crude Oil pipeline construction in Hoima next week.
Presidents, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and his Tanzanian counterpart, John Pombe Magufuli will be in Kabaale in Uganda on October 19, for the launch of the 1,445 kilometre East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) worth $3.55b on the Ugandan side. A similar launch was done in Tanga, Tanzania in August this year. The pipeline runs from Hoima in Uganda to Tanzania's Indian Ocean seaport of Tanga.
It will be able to transport 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day once the project starts its operation. Construction works are expected to begin early 2018, and would last three years.
But as the country gears up for this regional function, people affected by the oil refinery project under their umbrella organization Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA) have written to the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura notifying him of their plans to peacefully demonstrate on the same day.
“In line with Article 26 of the Constitution of Uganda, the Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA) wishes to inform you that we will, on October 19, 2017, hold a peaceful demonstration in Hoima district against government’s delay to compensate us and over its unfulfilled commitments to us per the Refinery Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) report of 2012,” residents say in their October 10 letter addressed to Gen Kayihura.
“Our protest, which will take place in Hoima district and will be participated in by over 200 people, will coincide with the visit of the presidents of Uganda –H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni- and Tanzania –H.E. John Pombe Magufuli- to Hoima.
Through this letter, we would like to inform you that as the refinery-affected people, we shall assemble and demonstrate in towns, streets and other areas of Hoima. Our actions will be a peaceful reminder to our good presidents of the need to ensure that the development of oil through refineries and oil pipelines among other infrastructure should not happen at the expense of human rights to prompt, fair and adequate compensation to project-affected people,” continues the letter signed by the ORRA Chairman, Innocent Tumwebaze.
But speaking to Kampala Post, Police Spokesperson, Asan Kasingye said “I have not seen the letter and therefore I cannot comment on it.”
The ORRA is an association of over 70 families living in Kabaale-Buseruka, Hoima district, whose land was acquired by government for Uganda’s proposed oil refinery in 2012. The residents among other issues complain that “government has failed to effectively implement the commitments in the RAP (Resettlement Action Plan) report of 2012 where government had committed to all the PAPs (Project Affected Persons) to among others: build houses for all, provide land titles to all and not resettle the PAPs in special settlements/camps but rather give to PAPs land bought on a case by case basis.”
In July this year, government commissioned the 46 resettlement houses built for some of the Project Affected Persons and some have already entered the houses. Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development has since explained that only 46 of the 93households that preferred relocation had lost houses and land to the refinery project.
Unveiling the Resettlement Action Plan to Hoima leaders and the affected residents in 2015, Francis Elungat, a lands officer in the Ministry then explained that government compensates land for land and house for house, adding that those who only lost land could not be built houses.
A Senior Communications Officer in the Ministry of Energy’s Petroleum Directorate, Gloria Ssebikari recently maintained that government would deliver on all its promises to the refinery affected persons, adding that schools, health centers and the road to the resettlement area are being constructed. She added that a process was ongoing to sub-divide the land title for resettlement land in order to obtain titles for individual pieces of land while water and electricity extension to the site is underway.
Over 7000 residents in Kabaale Parish, Buseruka Sub County were in 2012 displaced from their ancestral land after government acquired the 29square kilometer area for construction of an oil refinery.
In August this year, the ministry of energy and mineral development announced that “core project terms” had been agreed with the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC), whose other members include India’s Yatra Ventures LLC, and Italy’s Saipem SpA, to develop the oil refinery in Uganda.