Families displaced by oil refinery project reject govt compensation


More than 90 families who opted to be resettled from 29-square kilometre land earmarked for the oil refinery in Hoima District, have rejected government’s offer and petitioned President Museveni for intervention.

The chairman of the Refinery Affected Persons Relocation Committee, Mr Richard Orebi, on Thursday told Saturday Monitor that the families have twice inspected the land the government purchased for them and it is not suitable for settlement.

In the petition the families say: “Medical services are very distant, our children are not going to school, our neighbourhood is bushy and a threat to our safety and security….”

“Your Excellency, recent communication from the Ministry of Energy indicates that 46 households will be given land and a house, while the remaining 47 households will only get land. We feel this is unfair and request that we all be treated equally as promised,” the petition further reads.

They have rejected the offer by ministries of Energy and Lands of a self-contained house on the resettlement village. 
They instead want a house plan with three bed rooms, outside kitchen and toilet.

Ms Winfred Ngabiirwe, the executive director of Global Rights Alert (GRA), an NGO supporting rights of refinery affected communities, has asked government to give a clear schedule for the resettlement process to stop anxiety among the affected families.

“We recommend to government to fast track the resettlement process, expedite cash compensation of valued properties on land as project affected persons await relocation and stop advising against cultivation of perennial crops since the exact date of resettlement remains uncertain,” said Ms Ngabiirwe.

Compensation clarification
The Minister for the Presidency, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, said he had not seen the petition but advised the petitioners to follow up with the Ministry of Energy.

The refinery communication officer, Mr Bashir Hangi, said government has procured 533 acres in Kyakabooga village where the families will be resettled.

He added that government is only providing houses to the affected persons who had houses on their land.
“We have procured a contractor who will build resettlement houses. The community should be calm because all their grievances are being handled,” Mr Hangi said.

The refinery will produce 60,000 barrels of oil per day; there will be development of product storage sites as well as the construction of a 305 kilometre product pipeline to a terminal in Buloba, Wakiso district. The first phase of the refinery, according to government, is expected in 2018.

Reported by Francis Mugerwa - Daily Monitor