Buliisa residents grumble over land compensation

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Bulisa resident

Ms Margaret Asiimwe, one of the complainants 

By Monitor Reporter

A land compensation row has erupted in the area where the proposed industrial park for oil and gas production

in Kasinyi, Ngwendo Sub-county, Buliisa District.

The area was identified for the development of an industrial park for oil and gas production by oil companies under the Tilenga project.

A sign post in one of the affected areas: “The markers should not be removed or tampered with. Asset surveys and census of affected persons in the demarcated area started on 24t April 2017 and were completed on 16th May 2017. All of the affected persons within the demarcated area were identified and the properties were recorded for compensation as provided for under the government laws, policies and regulations.”

The notice also warns against people who would move into area to farm, construct houses in the demarcated areas after the exercise not to expect any compensation or resettlement.

“We ask the government to give us more money for our land, says Margaret Asiimwe, who, however, confesses to have received money for her crops.

She says the compensation was meagre and it was enough to enable her acquire a new place to set up a garden.

Mr Gilbert Balikulungi, the chairperson of Kasinyi Village Local Council says the compensation exercise has been marred by confusion and lack of a common stand with some residents accepting the amount of money that was given to them while others insist that the amount is little compared to the value of land they are vacating.

“The rate that was used to compensate people was very low. It was not fair. We tried to engage our leaders but got no help and we could not hire lawyers to fight for us,” he said.

The affected village in Ngwendo Sub-country are Kisomere, Kirama and Kigwera which covers about 786 acres of land.

Mr Balikulungi said some people were given as little as Shs250,000 as compensation for their houses.

Mr Paolyel Onencan, the executive director of Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development, a civil rights organisation that partnered with Action Aid Uganda to advocate for peoples land rights, said some residents were given Shs150 per cassava plant yet the market rate for such a plant is Shs4,000.

He said the rates were set by the government.

He said that apart from land compensation, people in the oil rich area, who are predominantly farmers, need skills to improve their production to match the quality and quantity standards that will be demanded by oil workers.

A groups of residents, however, have rejected the compensation saying the rates have to revised to suit the present market rates.

One of them is Mr John Tundulu, who has 12 acres in the affected area.

He said he was offered Shs3.5 million per acre but rejected it because it below the market rate.

“I am not against the project,” he said. “What I want is for the people who are displacing me to get me 12 acres elsewhere in Hoima or Buliisa district. Shs3.5 million per acre, will not enable to acquire 12 acres,” he said.

Original Source – Daily Monitor