Phosphate Mining Project Renews Disaffection in Tororo

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A proposed $500m phosphate mining investment in Osukuru hills in Tororo district has sparked off fresh protests from the residents of Osukuru and Rubongi sub counties in Tororo District. During a stormy meeting held at Tengor trading center today, the angry looking residents said whereas they embrace the project, they are not ready for displacement. The meeting was called by Osukuru-Rubongi Land Advocacy Organization, a pressure group in the area, to update residents on the latest developments about the phosphate mining in Osukuru. The meeting was convened to ask each affected family to contribute10, 000 shillings as facilitation for the lawyers during the court process. Silvanus Kala Erimat, the Chairperson of the pressure group says about 12,000 people are being threatened with eviction in the 26 square kilometers of land that stretches within 14 villages in the two sub counties. The project by Nilefos, an affiliate of Madvani group of companies, stalled in July 2008 after the residents sought legal re-dress from Mbale High Court, citing irregularities in the property valuation and compensation exercise. The residents sought an interim court order to restrain Nilefos from encroaching on their land. Two years ago, Janat Mukwaya, the then minister of Energy and mineral Development said the land on which the phosphate mining was going to take place, belonged to government which had the land title. The residents went ahead and rejected the 10 billion shilling compensation from the prime ministers office. The residents demanded to have their land leased to government instead, following an advice from the area Member of Parliament Geoffrey Ekanya. Ekanya says the residents are not against the investment but they want proper mode of compensation. The MP says they cannot displace people because the 1995 constitution says land belongs to people. Ekanya accused some District leaders of misleading the population with an aim of profiteering from the project. He says he will not sit back and watch his people sent to the streets in the name of displacement without proper mode of compensation. He told his people to have the land leased because the area is rich in many minerals.

 

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