Hoima Refinery Compensations to Be Cleared This Year -PEPD

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In short
The commitment comes amidst public outcry on the rights of the people affected by the refinery. African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a civil society organization today released a press statement urging parliament to observe the rights of these people before their situation worsens.

The ministry of energy has assured parliament that all the 2,615 people affected by plans to construct an oil refinery in Buseruka Sub County, in Hoima district will be compensated by October.

While presenting the ministry’s ministerial policy statement to parliament’s natural resources committee, the minister through the Petroleum Exploration Production Department (PEPD) said that 1,370 representing 52 percent of the affected people have already been settled.

The commitment comes amidst public outcry on the rights of the people affected by the refinery. African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a civil society organization today released a press statement urging parliament to observe the rights of these people before their situation worsens.

AFIEGO Executive Director Dickens Kamugisha said that the over two years delay to adequately compensate them has exposed their families to untold suffering as they no longer have enough food, no roof over their heads and their children are not going to school.

Kamugisha suggested that if government can’t compensate the affected people in time, it should restore basic services for their families especially the vulnerable which he says include; 293 children, 170 elderly, 90 widows and 500 women.

Irene Batebe, the refinery coordinator in the department said that they hope to pay an additional 598 people by the end of this month which will bring the percentage of the compensated people to 75. The remaining families will be cleared by October, she adds.

Batebe said that a total of Ugx 23 billion has so far been spent and Ugx 12 billion more has already been acquired to pay the 598 people set to be paid this month. She also said that land to resettle the 93 people that opted for resettlement has already been acquired but awaiting the solicitor General’s clearance for further action.

But some of the MPs reiterated sentiments by the civil society organizations and the affected people that the process has taken too long and that the land needs to be revalued if people are to be compensated fairly.

Kabale municipality MP Aja Baryayanga said that the people can’t be compensated at the rates of 2012 because land has now become more expensive asking government to consider re-evaluating the land.

But PEPD commissioner Earnest Rubondo said that the arguments are misguided. He explains that the issue at hand is bungled up with the precedence on Hoima-Kaisotonya road where the land was revalued after a four year delay in project implementation.

He reasons it’s because of that precedence that the refinery affected people are making unrealistic demands. He adds that revaluation cannot be done after clearing up to 75 percent of the people.

Rubondo said that construction of the refinery will start latest in 2017 but said some other work like leveling the ground and constructing camps for workers might begin as early as next year.

In 2012, government identified 29 square kilometers of land in Kabale, Buseruka Hoima district to construct a 600,000 barrel per day oil refinery but has not fully compensated the people affected.