Hoima Leaders Want Govt to Set Date for Relocation of People Affected by Oil Refinery

1611 Views Hoima, Uganda

In short
Local leaders from the oil refinery-affected area of Kabale in Buseruka Sub County, Hoima district, are demanding that government sets the date to relocate people.

Local leaders from the oil refinery-affected area of Kabale in Buseruka Sub County, Hoima district, are demanding that government sets the date to relocate people.

The leaders argue that failure by government to pronounce itself on this has kept them in suspense and they cannot plan for the area.

Geoffrey Komakech, the Buseruka sub county district councilor, says some road and water projects planned for the affected area are still pending while others have been transferred, due to doubts that they may not benefit people as they are relocating.

Komakech cites the road from Nyamasoga trading centre to Katooke village, which was transferred to another area in anticipation of the residents’ relocation. He says even a borehole for Nyahaira village and a shallow well for Bukona B village are yet to be constructed for fear that the intended beneficiaries may leave soon.

The councilor says this is a big challenge, yet people in the affected area still need services. He demands that government comes out to state the date when the affected people would be relocated.

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Gilbert Manyireki, a resident of Bukona B village, says there are no roads and enough water sources in the area. With a population of about 500 residents, Bukona B village was served by a single borehole which also became defunct a year ago. Manyireki says this has left them with no option but to draw water from a cattle valley dam.

On Friday, a URN reporter in the area saw women and children in Bukona B village carrying jerricans to fetch water from the valley dam.

Manyireki, who is also the village chairman, doubts that even if provided the water sources, roads and other projects may not be of benefit to them as they are not certain of whether they are leaving soon or later.

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But Bashir Hangi, the Communications Officer Petroleum Exploration and Production Department wonders why the local leaders are contradicting government plans yet they are part of it. Hangi maintains that there is no way government can set the date when the affected persons would be relocated without finalizing all the necessary steps of evaluation and compensation.

He reveals that the relocation in this case will not be the usual hasty evictions; as people will be given ample time to prepare and leave. Hangi stresses that no plans for that area should be deterred and people should have the services they need.

Government earmarked a 29 square mile piece of land in Kabaale parish for construction of an oil refinery to process the crude oil being drilled in the Albertine rift. Eleven villages with a population of about 8000 people are affected and face relocation.