Residents block oil palm project over delayed compensation

Former Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja launches oil palm growing in Buwangwe Village Busamuzi Sub-county in Buvuma District in May  2021. PHOTO/DENIS SSEBWAMI

What you need to know:

  • The plan to grow oil palm on Buvuma Island is part of the government’s wider plan to expand the edible oil industry in the country. Oil palm growing in Buvuma is implemented by National Oil Palm Project (NOPP), which also manages oil palm plantations on Bugala Islands in Kalangala District..

A section of residents in the island district of Buvuma have blocked oil palm growing  on private land until they receive their compensation packages , this publication has established.
Although the government agreed to pay for private land to expand the project, a section of residents fear that they may not get their money due to delays. 

The Buvuma Oil Palm project kicked off in May 2021 targeting 7,500 hectares of which 2,500 hectares is for small holder farmers and 5,000 on the nucleus estates. But so far,  2,000 hectares on the nucleus estate have been planted  while 502 out growers have planted 1,300 hectares.

The targeted villages are 89 but only 20 villages scattered in the sub-counties of Busamuzi, Buwooya, Nakirambi and Buvuma Town Council have been covered.
Ms  Nakato Hadijah , a resident of Kakyanga Village, said her land was surveyed  six years ago  and promised compensation but the money is not forthcoming .
“I stopped the investor from  planting  oil palm trees on my land after seeing my colleagues, who were assessed earlier than me, complaining over  delayed compensation,” she said in an interview on Monday.

Mr George   Alikodi, a resident of Bwaka, Buwanga Parish in Nairambi Sub-county, said his children have since dropped out of school because the land he could have used to grow marketable crops and raise fees was allocated for the project. Mr  Yunus Maganda , the chairperson of Nairambi Sub-county, said they are supporting  the residents’ move to block the  investor from clearing and planting oil palm trees on their bibanja until  they receive their  compensation.

“We sat with our people and tried to convince them to allow the investor to clear their land as they wait for compensation and many accepted, but government has failed to meet its obligation and residents blame all this on us,” he said. 
The district chairperson, Mr Adrian Wasswa Ddungu, said the project has been moving on smoothly but the delayed compensation of some residents is likely to affect it.

“We have tried talking  to the people not to prevent the investor from doing his work but they are insisting that they want their money,” he said.
Residents who are still demanding compensation are in the villages of Kakyanga, Bukalabati, Bukiyindi   and Kibondwe, according to Mr Ddungu.
When contacted, Mr Fred Kyakulaga Bwino, the State minister for Agriculture, said he is aware of the claims and that he has instructed the manager of National Oil Palm Project, Ms Suzan Lakwonyero, to get details of remaining claimants with a view to compensation.

“We have been compensating   all rightful claimants   in Buvuma, but there are also those who are making false claims to defraud the government. I have instructed the project manager  to establish their[claimants ] details and if they are genuine ,they will definitely be compensated,” he said by telephone yesterday.


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