Oil & gas

Refinery Project Meets Stiff Resistance over Compensation Row

ampoule http://cerlalc.org/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/uninstall.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%;”>Supported by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), viagra http://chuckatuckhistory.com/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/includes/class-wc-product-variation.php the people living in and around the area where the refinery will be set up want government (project implementers Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and Strategic Friends International), hospital to stop all activities in the refinery affected area until those affected are fully compensated.

The hearing of the interim injunction was held last Friday.

It followed the March 2014 case where the refinery affected people challenged human rights violations in the refinery construction process in the High Court.

While the case is still awaiting disposal, government has continued with the refinery project indifferent to the plight of the refinery affected people.

Some of them have continued to receive eviction notices even though they have never received a cent of the compensation money or been shown where they will be resettled.

The interim injunction, if granted, will compel government to stop the refinery process until these issues of compensation are fully settled.

The refinery affected people have since the inception of the project complained that the process is flawed, ambiguous and in violation of their rights.

The resettlement Action Plan, for instance, which government used as a guiding document for the resettlement and compensation process, has never been availed to the public.

In the early stages of resettlement, refinery affected people complained that that their property was undervalued and project implementers intimidated them into accepting government terms. The project implementers, MEMD and SFI, declared 2nd June 2012 the cut off date and stopped people from carrying out any long term developments on their land. Any developments after 2nd June 2012 were thus excluded from compensation.

“We hope that the interim injunction will be granted so that the refinery affected people can at least start freely utilising their land. It is sheer suffering and indignity to live like this. We want development, but only if that development has a human face,” Dickens Kamugisha, CEO AFIEGO, said.

While some of the people have been compensated and left, over a hundred still remain in the refinery area where they live in inhuman conditions.

Some of these accepted the compensation and were coerced into signing documents in acknowledgment of receipt of payment but government has never actually compensated them.

Others rejected the low compensation rates because they felt that what government was offering was much lower than the value of their property.

While many more opted for resettlement and only compensation for the developments they had on the land and up to today they still do not know where and when they will be resettled.

All these people have one thing in common- they live in isolation surrounded by Kilometres of bush and without access to basic facilities such as health, clean water and shops.

Wild animals

They live in uncertainty and cannot carry out any long term investments on their land as they do not know if or when the government will resettle them. Besides, government already declared that these long term investments will not be compensated for.

“The bush here has ‘grown up’ and animals come from far and want to eat us. They do not want us to kill these animals. Buffaloes attacked us last time. We told the police and they said we should return to our bushy homes and leave the animals alone,” said Esther Abigaba, one of the refinery affected people, of their predicament.

Government is soon expected to announce the winner of the refinery tender worth $2.5bn.

According to Energy Minister Permanent Secretary, Kaliisa Kabagambe, government has for several months been acquiring 29 Square kilometres of land in Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima District through “implementation of a Resettlement Action Plan that provides for compensation and/or resettlement of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) in line with the existing national legislation and international best practices.”

The right to property and compensation is enshrined under Article 26 of the Constitution and other laws such as the Land Act and the Land Acquisition Act. Article 26 of the Constitution is clear that whenever government decides to compulsorily acquire land for public use, it must fairly and adequately compensate the property owner prior and not after the land has been taken. Thus, the refinery people say, government is violating their Constitutional rights.

Together with the communities, AFIEGO has for the last two years petitioned the highest authorities in Uganda, including the Speaker of Parliament, the minister of energy, minister of lands, minister for Bunyoro Affairs, the Bunyoro region MPs, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Inspector of Government, the Chairperson Hoima district council and Bunyoro Kingdom.

These efforts, too, have failed to deliver justice and proper compensation for refinery affected people. The only hope is now court.

Huge project

The proposed Uganda Refinery Project will be constructed in Hoima, western Uganda, and is anticipated to have a capacity of 60,000 BPD.

Crude oil for the refinery will be procured from the fields under development by the Upstream Consortium comprised of CNOOC, Total SA and Tullow Oil.

The refinery will produce diesel, petrol, kerosene, jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and heavy fuel oil (HFO).

Ugandan oil resources are a significant feedstock for a domestic refinery as this would be the nation’s first refinery.

There are approximately 3.5 billion barrels of oil (of which 1.2-1.7 billion is commercially recoverable) and 350 billion cubic feet of gas.


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