A petition to the Speaker Of Parliament by the communities affected by the Proposed Oil Refinery in Kabaale, Buseruka-Hoima District -May 2013

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

A petition to the Speaker Of Parliament by the communities affected by the Proposed Oil Refinery in Kabaale, Buseruka-Hoima District -May 2013

The community of Kabaale, Buseruka-Hoima District, did write a petition to the Hon. Speaker Kadaga in regards to the oil refinery that is to be constructed within their area. See fullĀ  petition below.

 

RT. Hon. Rebbeca Kadaga,

The Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda

Dear Madam,

Re: A Petition by the Communities Affected by the Proposed Oil Refinery in Kabaale, Buseruka-Hoima District

YOUR RT. HON. SPEAKER, we wish to thank you for giving us an opportunity to meet you. We also thank you for the great leadership you have provided and continue to provide since the inauguration of the 9th Parliament. As citizens, we are proud of your service and we pledge our continued support. We also recognize that under your able leadership, parliament has been able to enact many laws including the two new petroleum legislation which, if well implemented, will go a long way to ensure that all Ugandans -especially the host communities like us- benefit from the exploitation of the oil resource.

The proposed oil refinery:

The government through the ministry of energy and mineral development is currently in our parish of Kabaale demarcating boundaries of 29sq km of land. Each of the petitioners has had their land affected by these boundaries- Land on which we have lived for decades with our homes, gardens, cows, goats, sheep- The very essence of our livelihoods.. We were born here and this is the only place we know as home.

1. While we support the refinery project, we are concerned about the manner in which the government is implementing the project. The objective of this petition is to present to you the challenges and problems we are facing as a result of the government’s failure to follow the national laws and respect our rights as the project affected communities. We therefore request and hope that you will use your powers as parliament to urgently intervene to stop the violation of our rights highlighted below.

2. THIS PETITION is a product of many meetings and hearings that were conducted in all the 13 villages of Kabaale where we discussed the challenges created by the proposed project and resolved to petition your office. The meetings and hearings were facilitated by our two main partners; Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) and the Navigators of Development Association (NAVODA).

3. WE APPRECIATE the ongoing government’s efforts to build an oil refinery in Uganda. This presents a tremendous opportunity for the country to develop and improve our living standards. Oil will generate the necessary revenues which, if well utilized, will enable the government to provide much needed social and economic services such as employment, quality health and education, clean water, good roads and many other amenities to improve the living standards of Ugandans.

7. GOVERNMENT SHOULD RECOGNIZE that the people of Bunyoro, including us in Kabaale parish, suffered a lot at the hands of colonialists. They killed, tortured, displaced our ancestors and gave away most of our land. The effects have kept us poor until this day. We request that parliament ensures that government manages the oil and other sectors in a transparent manner to stop the current miserable conditions we live in and bring prosperity and wealth to our communities.

We are law abiding citizens. We are aware that Article 26 of the Constitution, together with other enabling laws including the Land Act and the Land Acquisition Act, clearly provide for the protection of our right to property, such property can only be taken away by the government/local government for national development after meeting the requisite procedure.

Specifically, we observe and bring the following to your attention:

  • For the last one and half years, we the people of Kabaale parish have endured uncertainty regarding compensation and resettlement as government continues with the preparations to construct an oil refinery in our area. The refinery is planned to take 29sq km of our land and this has a huge impact on our future and the future of our children.
  • Lack of established regulations to guide the assessment and payment of compensation to the affected people has left Ugandans at the mercy of government officials and investors. The Land Acquisition Act cap 227 of 1965, under section 20 provides that the minister of lands by statutory instrument should make regulations for the assessment and payment of compensation to give full effect to the provisions and purposes of the Act. It is the absence of these regulations that have allowed government and investors to continue treating us unfairly.
  • Project evaluators and assessors are telling us the Project Affected People (PAP) that the refinery project will require us to leave our current villages/homes but they give no information regarding when we shall leave, how much we shall be paid as compensation or where we shall be resettled. This is torturing us mentally and emotionally as it makes it difficult to plan for our families. It is degrading to live a life of uncertainty over your own property.
  • No more perennial crops: We are told not to grow crops that take over a year to mature. Yet, we have not yet been compensated as per the constitutional requirement.
  • Children out of school: In some cases, we used to mortgage our property such as gardens and land to get money and pay school fees for our children. We cannot do this anymore because the lenders think that any time we shall be forced to leave our homes to unknown places. As a result, most of us parents can no longer afford school fees to keep our children in school.
  • Property not assessed: Some of our property was not included in the assessments. This means that even when the compensation is paid; such property will never be considered.
  • Assessment reports never seen: In other cases, many PAPs did not get the summary reports from the assessors to verify their assessed property. As such, it is impossible to know what property was captured or left out. We fear that they will cheat by manipulating the records.
  • Misinformation and lack of public awareness: We were told that those who preferred resettlement to compensation would be resettled in Karamoja. As a result, most of the people opted for monetary compensation because no one desired to go to Karamoja. But if the right information had been given to us and were sensitized, we would have made right choices.
  • Use of pencils instead of pens: The evaluators used pencils during the assessment and we are worried that they will change the information to cheat us.

Damages to gardens: During the opening of boundaries, the officers damaged some PAPs’ crops but this has never been compensated for. There is no hope that PAPs will receive this compensation as it was never recorded.

  • Violating our privacy: The assessors enter our gardens without notifying us. This is a violation of our right to privacy and an infringement of our culture.
  • Some people on the list seen by some PAPs have never existed in the villages they purport to be residents. As we speak, the project has introduced ghost residents in our area.
  • Lack of consultations on the rates: Hoima district lands office that is required to compile rates for crops and non-permanent buildings never consulted the PAPs on the rates. Instead, they left everything to be done by the Chief Government Valuer in Kampala.

Lack of participatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): While the resettlement and compensation exercise is going on, we the affected people have never seen any government agency (including National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA)) consulting on issues of environment. As a result, we don’t know what may happen to us, our children, our cows, our goats, our gardens or the spirits of our exhumed forefathers and mothers. The government is concerned with economic effects through feasibility studies and Resettlement Action Plans (RAP) but has ignored issues that matter to our very live

  • The feasibility studies and Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) were done without public awareness and therefore they lacked effective public participation. They do not have our support, which makes them illegitimate.
  • All the above observations clearly show a failure to observe and implement the national laws especially the Constitution Article 29 which provides that: (1) Every person has a right to own property, and (2) No person shall be compulsorily deprived of property or any interest in or right over property of any description except where the following conditions are satisfied (a) the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary for public use, (b) the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of property is made under a law which makes provision for prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property, and a right of access to a court of law by any person who has an interest or right over the property.
  • This constitutional provision has been fundamentally abused by the government officials. They dictate and pay unfair compensation, they stop us from using our property before compensation and we cannot access courts of law because of high costs. All these are violations of our rights.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE CONCERNS, Rt. Hon. Speaker, we the affected people, through this petition, take this opportunity to ask you to do the following for us:

  1. Ask the Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development to put in place regulations for the assessment and payment of compensation as required by section 20 of the Land Acquisition Act Cap 227 of 1965. Among other things, the regulations should provide for:

(a) the time frame within which the compensation should be paid after the assessment,

(b) protection of the property owner to enjoy his/her property without any interference until he/she is fully compensated,

(c) a right of the affected person to decide where he or she should be resettled,

(d) a right of the affected person to be given accurate and timely information regarding the project,

(e) Penal sanctions for a developer who gives wrong and misleading information to the affected person,

(f) Mandatory negotiation and agreements between developers and affected persons before any land can be compulsorily acquired.

2.Make a law that gives an affected person an option of leasing land and repossessing it after the completion of the project.

3.Take the advantage of the Public Finance Bill 2012 currently before your Parliament to provide for a share of 5% royalty to the land owners affected by the oil activities.

4.Ensure compulsory EIAs that compare the environmental effects of the affected areas with the ones where the affected people are to be resettled.

5.Develop a formula for calculating a fair and adequate compensation under Article 26 of the Constitution.

6.Investigate the actions of the government officials who are handling the assessment and evaluation of the PAPs’ property with a view of bringing them to justice where they have violated our rights.

Conclusion:

Once again, we all support the refinery project but all we want is for the developers to stop violating our rights. We pray that you will use your good office to urgently address the injustices being meted on us by the developers. We Thank You.

For God and My Country.

Signed by: