Oil project-affected persons get land titles after 10 years

A man grazes cattle and burns charcoal on the oil refinery land in Kabaale, Hoima District recently. PHOTO | ALEX TUMUHIMBISE

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Oil refinery project-affected persons in Hoima District, who have been under the threat of eviction, have been given land titles after nearly 10 years of waiting.

The State Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Mr Peter Lokeris, handed over the 127 certificates of land title to the affected persons in Kyakaboga Village, Buseruka Sub-county, last Thursday.

In 2012, the government acquired 29 square kilometres of land for the construction of the oil refinery in 13 villages in Kabaale parish in Buseruka, displacing more than 7,000 people.

Some of them were resettled in Kyakaboga, where the government acquired 533 acres of land and constructed permanent houses. 

Some project-affected persons opted for in-kind compensation, and others settled for money.

Mr Lokeris said the titles should give the project-affected persons a sense of security as genuine land owners.

‘‘The processed titles are a guarantee to the project-affected persons to genuinely own their land without interference. The handover of the titles is yet another key achievement made in the implementation of the Refinery Resettlement Action Plan,” he said.

Mr Lokeris also expressed concern over some project-affected persons who opted for cash compensation and ended up misusing the money.

‘‘When we gave some people money, instead of being resettled, they [misused] it. We are emphasising that they should keep their land for their children and we are going to sensitise them about this,’’ he said.

The acting head of the Directorate of Petroleum in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Mr Honey Malinga, said six project-affected persons did not get their land titles because of lack of national identification cards.

‘‘Every individual has received two freehold titles; one for the farm land and the other for plots where their houses are located. The other six did not get titles because they had no nation identification cards,’’  Mr Malinga said.

The Bugahya County MP,  Mr Pius Wakabi Rujumba, said the titles will protect residents against land grabbers.

 ‘‘The biggest challenge in my constituency has been land grabbing and  evictions since oil was discovered in this area; many people are coming in to settle around this area. This will help to solve land grabbing,’’ Mr Wakabi said.

Mr Saddam Tekwakwo, one of the project-affected persons, said he now has a sense of security over his land.

‘‘I have been desperate since 2012. The government had promised to give us land titles but it took a long time. I am now strong because I own the land,’’ Mr Tekwakwo said.


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