By Peter Abaanabasazi
The people affected by the construction of the oil refinery in Buseruka Sub County, Hoima district are cursing why their home area played host to an oil refinery.
This follows reports that government has refused to construct houses for some of the people displaced by plans to construct an oil refinery.
Government earmarked a 29square kilometer piece of land in Kabaale parish to host the oil refinery which will be processing 600,000 of Uganda’s crude oil into finished petroleum products.
This has seen 7118 residents from 13 villages displaced from their ancestral land to pave way for the project.
In 2012, the Uganda government started the process of acquiring the land and 98% of the people displaced have been compensated leaving102 household and 83 families that opted for relocation awaiting their turn. 102 households went to court protesting unfair compensation.
In the process, 83 households opted for resettlement and government is currently constructing settlement houses in Kyakaboga village Buseruka sub-county.
However, we have learnt that government has only constructed 46 housing units leaving out the 37 families on grounds that they had no houses on their land before eviction.
The 37 families have on several occasions protested the government decision saying the latter promised to construct houses for all the people who opted for relocation.
After getting information that government was planning to relocate their colleagues in Kyakaboga, the affected families last month set up grass thatched houses in the same area. However, two weeks ago, unknown people set the grass thatched structures ablaze.
The affected residents believe that people clandestinely working for government were behind the attack.
They are also facing a challenge of lack of access to social services because access roads and pathways are no more. They also complain of wild and domestic animals like baboons and cows which destroy the small gardens they have.
Dickens Kamugisha, the Executive Director, Africa Institute for Energy Governance AFIEGO, a non-governmental organization that has been at the forefront of making sure they are treated faily, castigated government for failing to implement the agreement it made with the people during the resettlement action plan.
He noted that the affected people went to court in 2012 seeking for justice over unfair treatment and compensation but so far three judges have withdrawn from the case over lame excuse.
He warned that the oil and gas sector may turning into a curse due to unfair treatment of people affected by oil activities.
Ibrahim Kasita, a Communication Officer in the Ministry of Energy said that government is planning to relocate the people adding that 37 families had no houses by the time of the resettlement action plan.
“Under the resettlement action plan, mopsomeone is given what he had before, so these people had no house on their land and government cannot construct houses for them,” he said
Dan Muhairwe, the MP for Buhaguzi County says that local leaders are aware about the residents’ plight adding that they have for several times demanded that government addresses the people’s concerns.