Frustration as court adjourns oil refinery payout case

Some of the complainants with their lawyer Mr Brighton Ayampa (right) at Masindi High Court on Tuesday. PHOTO / ISMAIL BATEGEKA

What you need to know:

  • In December last year, Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa, admitted there had been delays in compensating project-affected persons but noted government was doing whatever it takes to expedite the compensation.

The Masindi High Court has adjourned the hearing of a case in which oil refinery project-affected persons are suing the government to November 10.

The  Masindi resident judge, Justice Jessy Byaruhanga, adjourned the case after the Attorney General failed to appear in court.

The project-affected persons’ lawyer, Mr Brighton Ayampa,  expressed disappointment over delayed judgment of the matter.

‘We have had adjournments for a decade now. It is costly to always travel from Hoima to Masindi. We received a letter from Attorney General’s office, and they wanted the High Court judge to adjourn, we thought when the case is transferred to Masindi, it will be easy but the Attorney General’s office is frustrating the process,’’  Mr Ayampa said.

The case, which was being heard at Kampala High Court, was in 2020 transferred to Masindi High Court on request of the complainants.

In 2012, the government acquired 29 square kilometres of land for the construction of the oil refinery, Kabaale airport and an industrial park in 13 villages in Kabaale Parish of Buseruka Sub-county in Hoima District. 

More than 7,000 people were displaced and some of them were resettled in Kyakaboga Village in Buseruka where the government acquired 533 acres of land and constructed permanent houses.

However, more than 150 affected persons were not satisfied with the government compensation and delays.

The African Institute for Energy Governance executive officer, Mr Dickens Kamugisha, said project-affected persons have spent many years without justice.

‘‘Most of these people accepted the little  money out of frustration and the people who opted for physical relocation got their  houses in 2018, and they were not compensated for that time. The government has kept them waiting,’’  Mr Kamugisha said.

According to Mr Christopher  Opio one of the affected persons, the government compensated them in 2015 after a three-year delay without considering the current land market rates, which caused them loses.

The government contracted Strategic Friends International to do an assessment on the compensation.

The assessment was completed on   June 2, 2021 and residents were halted from conducting activities on the land.

In December last year, Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa, admitted there had been delays in compensating project-affected persons but noted government was doing whatever it takes to expedite the compensation.

“The valuation process has been done by the chief government valuer. The next step will be seeing money coming to their accounts. We need to speed up and we need to up our game as far as sensitisation of project affected persons is concerned,” she said.

Ms Gloria Sebikari, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda manager for corporate affairs and public relations, told Daily Monitor earlier that compensation is being expedited, noting that  no activity will be conducted on land that has not be compensated.

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