Tuesday February 7 2012

Tullow sued over land compensation

By Francis Mugerwa


A group of residents of Buliisa have dragged Tullow Oil to court, accusing it of failing to compensate them for property they lost during oil exploration activities.

In a suit filed at the High Court in Masindi, 11 residents say between March and June last year while Tullow Oil was carrying out oil exploration activities in Mvule I, Ajigo and Uduku villages in Nguedo Sub-county in Buliisa District, their crops and other properties were destroyed.

They claim that at the time, Tullow Oil contracted Bageine and Company Ltd to evaluate destroyed property with a view of compensating them. They state that in October 2011, the lists of persons to be compensated were sent to the affected villages and they detected anomalies on the lists. “The list was not indicating the property to be compensated and its value, sizes of gardens were not indicated, some names of the persons to be compensated were missing,” the residents argue in their suit.

The case is to be heard by Justice Ralph Ochan. The residents claim that they insisted on being availed a detailed valuation report but the defendant refused and that they were also denied compensation forms. The complainants and Tullow Oil with their respective lawyers appeared before the court on January 18.

Tullow contends
However, Tullow objected to the proposal by the complainants to file a joint suit, arguing that if they have genuine claims, each of them should file a separate case. The residents had told the court that they wanted to save court from handling multiple suits of the same interest.

Court accepted Tullow’s argument to the effect and also ordered the oil firm to file its defence within 15 days. “The status of the case as we understand it is that it was dismissed and individuals told to file separate applications,” Tullow’s spokesperson Jimmy Kiberu told Daily Monitor yesterday Monday.

He said the firm compensated more than 30,000 people and the number of complaints which the company had received are less than one per cent. The court is due to fix a date when hearing of the case will commence.