Press Releases

Update on hearing of Tilenga case today 01-10-2019

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We would like to notify you that the case in which youth and CSOs want the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate of approval for the Tilenga oil project to be cancelled is going to be heard today in the Kampala High Court today (October 1, 2019).

Kindly refer to the attached update for moreUpdate on hearing of Tilenga case today 01-10-2019

Press statement calling for none-renegotiation and modification of UMEME licence

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Africa Institute for Energy (AFIEGO) has written to president and the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) demanding for halting of processes to renegotiate and modify UMEME’s concession and licence respectively.
This followed publication of a January 9, 2019 notice in the media in which ERA called on the public to make comments on a notice, published on its website, which shows the modifications it intends to make to UMEME’s licence.  Read More

Press statement by ORRA calling for opening of Nyahaira

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Government must open Nyahaira P/S this school term to enable the oil refineryaffected pupils who were relocated to Kyakaboga to return to school, refineryaffected parents have said. Read More: Press statement by ORRA calling for opening of Nyahaira

Press statement on Justice Steven Kavuma’s gagging of debate on Shs 6B oil cash payments

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The deputy chief justice Mr. Steven Kavuma must stop using the law to serve injustice and cheat Ugandans, a consortium of nine civil society organisations working for justice and equitable development in Uganda has said. The organisations which include Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Global Rights Alert (GLA), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG), made the above call following the issuance of an interim order restraining parliament, any persons or authority from investigating or inquiring into the Shs 6 billion oil cash bonus payment made to several government officials. Press statement on Justice Steven Kavuma’s gagging debate on Shs 6B oil cash payments

Press statement on Justice Steven Kavuma’s gagging of debate on Shs 6B oil cash payments

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The deputy chief justice Mr. Steven Kavuma must stop using the law to serve injustice and cheat Ugandans, a consortium of nine civil society organisations working for justice and equitable development in Uganda has said. The organisations which include Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Global Rights Alert (GLA), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG), made the above call following the issuance of an interim order restraining parliament, any persons or authority from investigating or inquiring into the Shs 6 billion oil cash bonus payment made to several government officials. Press statement on Justice Steven Kavuma’s gagging debate on Shs 6B oil cash payments

THE ABUSE OF THE REFINERY AFFECTED PEOPLE’S RIGHTS POISED TO WORSEN, AFIEGO WARNS

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Press Release, 05th August 2014

Kabaale, Hoima-Uganda –The human rights abuses endured by the refinery affected people of Kabaale Parish, Buseruka Sub County-Hoima Uganda for the past two years will get a lot worse unless the families who asked for relocation and those who rejected inadequate rates of compensation currently living in isolated ghost villages are rescued immediately before disasters in form of famine, falling houses, lack of health care, education services, clean water, gangs of criminals and snakes roaming the area strike, AFIEGO warned yesterday.
“The over two years of delay by the government to adequately compensate all the oil refinery affected people in Kabaale has exposed the families remaining in the area to untold suffering, and any more delays may result into a disaster no-one can estimate the gravity before the end of 2014,” said Dickens Kamugisha, Chief Executive Officer-AFIEGO. If the government does not urgently fulfil her constitutional duty of adequately compensating all the affected people where those who want relocation are resettled in a new area with basic services such as houses, clean water, schools, health centres and roads while those who rejected unfair rates are paid fair and adequate compensation to enable them buy land elsewhere as a matter of urgency, the nightmare endured by the families over the past 2 or so years will be only the beginning. It will worsen and go out of control.
If it cannot compensate the affected people to leave the affected villages, Government should immediately restore basic services for the families especially the vulnerable groups including the over 500 women, 293 children, 170 elderly and 90 widows currently languishing in the villages with no means to access shops, water, schools, health services, no access roads and foot-passes and living at the risk of being attached by dangerous snakes and hungry dogs. “The help to these people must start now.” Micheal Businge, AFIEGO’s Bunyoro Field Coordinator, said yesterday.
“Continued lamentation of government that there are no funds to complete the compensation and relocation when the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) being implemented stops the affected families from using their land for any development and the failure to provide social/basic services to the local communities in the area is clear evidence of an oil curse and only serves to confirm the level of impunity for constitutional violations and human rights abuses amidst oil development. These deliberate violations are against Article 26 of the Constitution which protects people’s rights to property and states that the right to property can only be interfered with only after payment of fair and adequate compensation to the affected person”, Ms. Resty Namuli-AFIEGO’s legal officer, said.
The above violations have made it so far impossible for other groups to provide a lasting solution to the suffering being faced in the refinery area. In addition to going to court, AFIEGO together with the group leaders of the affected people has moved in to support the roofing of the houses of the elderly women who had started living in the open, transporting the sick to Hoima town for treatment, supporting the repair of the broken boreholes, sensitizing the people to avoid mortgaging their possible future compensation through loans, supporting the affected families who have some land outside the refinery area with fruit tree seedlings (mangoes, ovacados, guavas, oranges, pawpaws and others) and clearing foot passes from the nearest feeder roads to some households. These are not complete solutions but they are intended to mitigate the suffering and misery as we wait for the court decision to stop the government’s excesses.
Our response
As the affected people remain stranded, AFIEGO is working with the group leaders of the PAPs to identify the most vulnerable people/families and availing them with any badly needed help possible. In the last one month alone, AFIEGO has helped 31 women and children to get to health centres in Hoima for some treatment, supported a repair of a borehole, encouraged 8 families to send back their children to the nearest primary schools and persuaded other 11 families to avoid loans. AFIEGO, under her public litigation for social justice and human rights initiative is facilitating over 80 families to attend Kampala High Court hearings regarding their refinery case. We need your support to keep the people actively involved.
“Last month, AFIEGO was able to facilitate 30 affected families to attend the first hearing where the High Court ordered against any evictions of the affected people. After the case hearing, we travelled with the people back to Kabaale and visited 39 families considered to be at the highest risk. We found, the number one priority for everyone we talked to was accommodation, food, drugs, and education for children and fear for wild animals. They are already hurting as many of their children have missed the whole year of 2014 and not sure whether they will go in 2015 because the children either cannot walk long distances through the bushes to the nearest schools or they can’t walk on empty tummies as they have no food. They also can’t send the children to schools while still in Kabaale as they expect to be displaced any day. Those who risk planting short term crops such as beans and sweet potatoes are also in tears as the animals cannot allow them grow to maturity. If you visit Kabaale, the community’s suffering is beyond any imagination”

To make it worse, many of the families are being evicted from the trading centres where they have been taking refuge after running away from their falling houses located in the bushes where neighbours left them some months ago. Now, the people who got their compensation and left their houses in the trading centres have come back to take away the materials from the houses to build new ones where they shifted to. Sadly, it is mostly widows and children who are being pushed out of those houses. The current help we are giving is just a drop in the ocean” AFIEGO is currently designing projects that will enable us increase our capacity to engage with the government and other stakeholders to mitigate the human rights violations.
“While the new 2014/15 budget should give hope to provide funds to complete the compensation of the affected people, we doubt the readiness of the government to consider the refinery affected people’s polite as a priority. Already, contrary to the Constitution, last month, the parliament dominated by the ruling party MPs including the MPs from the oil region authorised the government to access half of the annual budget (over UGX7 trillion) in the first quarter of the financial year before any discussion of the budget by the House. These are signs which clearly indicate that both the executive and parliament are not about to stick to the rules of governance and without good governance, the citizens will continue to be sacrificed by those in authority” Dickens said.

AFIEGO will continue to work to not only ease the current suffering witnessed in Kabaale “we will also work to ensure that a new law is put in place to address the injustice in compensation across Uganda” our target is to ensure that every affected citizen across the nation should be guaranteed prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation and where this fails, the court system should be accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone to access for redress with confidence and trust.

“in terms of numbers, more than a third of the affected people are still languishing in the ghost villages of Kabaale, over 78 children between the ages of 3 to 17 have missed going to school for the 2014, 53 families have no houses you can call home and no food. Mr. Kamugisha said.

About AFIEGO
AFIEGO (Africa Institute for Energy Governance) has been operating in Kabaale, Buseruka-Hoima and the Albertan Graben a whole since, 2007. We also work in the rest of the country building the capacity of communities, institutions and influencing policies to work for the citizens. The commencement of the oil refinery development process through land acquisition in Kabaale made it inevitable for us to work with the communities in the area. We are using experiences and lessons from related projects to ensure that our efforts produce maximum results for the affected people.

Media and other line staff contacts
Patience Akumu (communications-Kampala): + 254-414-571597, afiego@afiego.org
Resty Namuli (Legal education officer): +254-414-571597, afiego@afiego.org
Micheal Businge (Hoima): +256-773-769450, afiego@afiego.org

CSOs condemn violence in Uganda’s Rwenzori region and emphasize the need for collaboration between the government and traditional leaders to prevent future conflict

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As Ugandans anticipates a major spike in revenue from oil production, suspicions and mistrust between the two authorities must end to prevent conflict and ensure equitable development

Kampala, 7th August 2014
The undersigned Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) express deep concern at the serious violence that happened last month in the areas of Kasese, Kamwenge and Ntoroko in southwestern Uganda, which resulted in the deaths of over 90 civilians and security personnel as well as the arrest of hundreds of suspects. This is an area which has suffered decades of violence from various armed groups, including the ADF, which in one case slaughtered over 80 students at Kicwamba College. The communities want peace and development but not violence and death.

We strongly condemn all the perpetrators of such violence and call upon the government and traditional leaders to ensure that such violence between civilians and security agencies does not happen again. We commend the efforts of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who, since the violence to date, has camped in the region to ensure peace. However, we remind him and the government that there can never be peace without truth and reconciliation. While the President, the Minister for Defence, Minister for Internal Affairs and other political leaders have attempted to point at possible causes of the violence, it is not convincing to explain why the different tribes in the Rwenzori region, which have lived together in peace for decades, are now picking up pangas and spears to attack each other and to attack military barracks and police stations.
The President and his ministers’ statements also do not explain the excessive force that was used by police and the army against civilians which resulted into the death of over 90 people. Such violence and the killings cannot be explained or justified politically. Impossible.
The painful truth: we lost Ugandans, both civilians and security personnel, from senseless violence. The security agencies of the government failed in their primary duty of detecting and preventing the violence; this led to the killings. By commission or omission, both the attackers and the security forces who may have killed the attackers should be blamed for the violence and the death. In addition to the IGP camping in the region and the political statements by the President and ministers, an independent commission of inquiry headed by a judge should be initiated to find out the truth and make recommendations for a lasting solution.
The commission should investigate the allegations that the cause of the Ruwenzori violence was the ongoing creation of new cultural institutions, which are viewed by the old Kingdoms as a ploy by the government to weaken the existing traditional institutions. In their view, this enables the government and her agents in the new Chiefdoms to grab land and other natural resources located in the old Kingdoms, which is of particular relevlance as Uganda prepares for oil production in the region.
It should be remembered that the Rwenzori violence came few months after the Rwenzururu King Mumbele was stopped from visiting parts of His Kingdom. This is related to the Buganda violence, which happened as a result of the government stopping the Buganda King Ronald Mutebi from visiting Kayunga, one of the areas in the Buganda Kingdom. At that time, the Banyala, a small tribe in Buganda, was demanding from the government to be declared an independent Kingdom from Buganda. The resulting violence led to the death of over 50 civilians and hundreds of injuries and arrests.
Like the violence in Rwenzori, the Buganda-Kayunga violence was a senseless violence that happened at the time when tensions between the government and the Buganda Kingdom over the Kingdom’s property were high. The Kingdom viewed the Banyala as a creation of the government to weaken Buganda and defeat her efforts to recover her land and property. Unfortunately, to date, after over four years of the violence, there is no evidence about what happened. The police report has never been made public.
If such deep-rooted mistrust and suspicions are not addressed, the development of oil in the Albertan Graben, a region that covers the Ruwenzori and borders with Eastern DRC, may be dangerous and devestating. Many small tribes will struggle to claim their share of oil and protect their land from the growing population arriving to benefit from oil opportunities, while the original kingdoms will struggle to maintain their original boundaries.
While the prosecution of suspects is necessary, the lessons from the Buganda violence clearly indicate that such a step alone cannot provide a lasting solution to problems of mistrust and suspicion between Kingdoms and the government.
To find a lasting solution, there is a need to establish the truth behind the violence and bring all parties involved on the table for truth and reconcilation.
We recommend that, in the initial years of oil development, the creation of new Kingdoms should be suspended across Uganda for at least for 10 years to allow the current wounds to heal. This is a sacrifice that Ugandans should welcome for the sake of preventing further bloodshed. During the time of suspension, both the traditional and government leaders should engage in honest discussions and sensitize the citizens on how to live as one people.

About the undersigned CSOs:
The Ugandan CSOs, together with partners from DRC, Rwanda and Burundi under an IUCN NL-supported transboundary project entitled ‘Empowering Local Communities to Influence Governments & Regional Bodies to Respect Human, Social, Economic and Environmental Needs and Rights in the Graben and the Great Lakes Region’, remain steadfast in their commitment to building the capacity of local communities and engaging with all relevant stakeholders in the Graben to promote socio-economic development, peace and environmental conservation. Our work with communities is done in an impartial, neutral and independent manner.
This press release is undersigned by the following civil society organizations from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC:
AFIEGO Uganda RCREF, DRC
Global Rights Alert, Uganda COPEILE, DRC
IDPE, DRC ADEV, DRC
SOPR, DRC ACNR, Rwanda
CREDDHO, DRC ABN, Burundi

The abuse of the Refinery Affected People’s rights poised to worsen, AFIEGO warns

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The abuse of the Refinery Affected People’s rights poised to worsen, AFIEGO warns
Press Release, 05th August 2014

Kabaale, Hoima-Uganda– The human rights abuses endured by the refinery affected people of Kabaale Parish, Buseruka Sub County-Hoima Uganda for the past two years will get a lot worse unless the families who asked for relocation and those who rejected inadequate rates of compensation currently living in isolated ghost villages are rescued immediately before disasters in form of famine, falling houses, lack of health care, education services, clean water, gangs of criminals and snakes roaming the area strike, AFIEGO warned yesterday.

“The over two years of delay by the government to adequately compensate all the oil refinery affected people in Kabaale has exposed the families remaining in the area to untold suffering, and any more delays may result into a disaster no-one can estimate the gravity before the end of 2014,” said Dickens Kamugisha, Chief Executive Officer-AFIEGO. If the government does not urgently fulfil her constitutional duty of adequately compensating all the affected people where those who want relocation are resettled in a new area with basic services such as houses, clean water, schools, health centres and roads while those who rejected unfair rates are paid fair and adequate compensation to enable them buy land elsewhere as a matter of urgency, the nightmare endured by the families over the past 2 or so years will be only the beginning. It will worsen and go out of control.

If it cannot compensate the affected people to leave the affected villages, Government should immediately restore basic services for the families especially the vulnerable groups including the over 500 women, 293 children, 170 elderly and 90 widows currently languishing in the villages with no means to access shops, water, schools, health services, no access roads and foot-passes and living at the risk of being attached by dangerous snakes and hungry dogs. “The help to these people must start now.” Micheal Businge, AFIEGO’s Bunyoro Field Coordinator, said yesterday.

“Continued lamentation of government that there are no funds to complete the compensation and relocation when the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) being implemented stops the affected families from using their land for any development and the failure to provide social/basic services to the local communities in the area is clear evidence of an oil curse and only serves to confirm the level of impunity for constitutional violations and human rights abuses amidst oil development. These deliberate violations are against Article 26 of the Constitution which protects people’s rights to property and states that the right to property can only be interfered with only after payment of fair and adequate compensation to the affected person”, Ms. Resty Namuli-AFIEGO’s legal officer, said.

The above violations have made it so far impossible for other groups to provide a lasting solution to the suffering being faced in the refinery area. In addition to going to court, AFIEGO together with the group leaders of the affected people has moved in to support the roofing of the houses of the elderly women who had started living in the open, transporting the sick to Hoima town for treatment, supporting the repair of the broken boreholes, sensitizing the people to avoid mortgaging their possible future compensation through loans, supporting the affected families who have some land outside the refinery area with fruit tree seedlings (mangoes, ovacados, guavas, oranges, pawpaws and others) and clearing foot passes from the nearest feeder roads to some households. These are not complete solutions but they are intended to mitigate the suffering and misery as we wait for the court decision to stop the government’s excesses.
Our response
As the affected people remain stranded, AFIEGO is working with the group leaders of the PAPs to identify the most vulnerable people/families and availing them with any badly needed help possible. In the last one month alone, AFIEGO has helped 31 women and children to get to health centres in Hoima for some treatment, supported a repair of a borehole, encouraged 8 families to send back their children to the nearest primary schools and persuaded other 11 families to avoid loans. AFIEGO, under her public litigation for social justice and human rights initiative is facilitating over 80 families to attend Kampala High Court hearings regarding their refinery case. We need your support to keep the people actively involved.
“Last month, AFIEGO was able to facilitate 30 affected families to attend the first hearing where the High Court ordered against any evictions of the affected people. After the case hearing, we travelled with the people back to Kabaale and visited 39 families considered to be at the highest risk. We found, the number one priority for everyone we talked to was accommodation, food, drugs, and education for children and fear for wild animals. They are already hurting as many of their children have missed the whole year of 2014 and not sure whether they will go in 2015 because the children either cannot walk long distances through the bushes to the nearest schools or they can’t walk on empty tummies as they have no food. They also can’t send the children to schools while still in Kabaale as they expect to be displaced any day. Those who risk planting short term crops such as beans and sweet potatoes are also in tears as the animals cannot allow them grow to maturity. If you visit Kabaale, the community’s suffering is beyond any imagination”

To make it worse, many of the families are being evicted from the trading centres where they have been taking refuge after running away from their falling houses located in the bushes where neighbours left them some months ago. Now, the people who got their compensation and left their houses in the trading centres have come back to take away the materials from the houses to build new ones where they shifted to. Sadly, it is mostly widows and children who are being pushed out of those houses. The current help we are giving is just a drop in the ocean” AFIEGO is currently designing projects that will enable us increase our capacity to engage with the government and other stakeholders to mitigate the human rights violations.
“While the new 2014/15 budget should give hope to provide funds to complete the compensation of the affected people, we doubt the readiness of the government to consider the refinery affected people’s polite as a priority. Already, contrary to the Constitution, last month, the parliament dominated by the ruling party MPs including the MPs from the oil region authorised the government to access half of the annual budget (over UGX7 trillion) in the first quarter of the financial year before any discussion of the budget by the House. These are signs which clearly indicate that both the executive and parliament are not about to stick to the rules of governance and without good governance, the citizens will continue to be sacrificed by those in authority” Dickens said.

AFIEGO will continue to work to not only ease the current suffering witnessed in Kabaale “we will also work to ensure that a new law is put in place to address the injustice in compensation across Uganda” our target is to ensure that every affected citizen across the nation should be guaranteed prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation and where this fails, the court system should be accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone to access for redress with confidence and trust.

“in terms of numbers, more than a third of the affected people are still languishing in the ghost villages of Kabaale, over 78 children between the ages of 3 to 17 have missed going to school for the 2014, 53 families have no houses you can call home and no food. Mr. Kamugisha said.

About AFIEGO
AFIEGO (Africa Institute for Energy Governance) has been operating in Kabaale, Buseruka-Hoima and the Albertan Graben a whole since, 2007. We also work in the rest of the country building the capacity of communities, institutions and influencing policies to work for the citizens. The commencement of the oil refinery development process through land acquisition in Kabaale made it inevitable for us to work with the communities in the area. We are using experiences and lessons from related projects to ensure that our efforts produce maximum results for the affected people.

Media and other line staff contacts
Patience Akumu (communications-Kampala): + 254-414-571597, afiego@afiego.org
Resty Namuli (Legal education officer): +254-414-571597, afiego@afiego.org
Micheal Businge (Hoima): +256-773-769450, afiego@afiego.org

Press statement on a high level conference on oil governance in Uganda and the Great Lakes region; 22 October 2013

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PRESS STATEMENT
22nd October 2013
For immediate release
AFIEGO to host great lakes region conference on oil governance

Africa Institute for Energy governance (AFIEGO) will, on 25th October, hold a High Level Conference entitled: “The Governance of Oil in Uganda and the Great Lakes Region.” The conference aims at carrying forward the debate on ways to ensure that oil in Uganda and the entire great lakes region works for the benefit of the people. It will be held under the theme “Oil and the protection of citizens’ rights in Uganda and the Great Lakes region” and will bring together over 100 participants to discuss and build consensus on how the new laws and policies regulating the Great Lakes region newly discovered oil, gas and mineral wealth can be used to avert the notorious oil curse, meet the needs of the citizens and transform the region.
The high level conference will be held at Hotel Africana and will bring together different stakeholders including government officials, MPs, development partners, private sector, energy experts, civil society, religious and cultural leaders, local communities, and universities. Participants will come from DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Uganda

Dickens Kamugisha, CEO AFIEGO, explained the rationale of the conference thus: “The Albertine Graben region, where oil is located, is socially, environmentally and economically important to Uganda and all the countries of the great lakes region. It is here that we find Uganda’s seven out of ten protected areas. The area also boasts of Rivers and Lakes that are shared across borders. It is therefore necessary that the question of oil governance be handled at all levels- local, national and regional.”

AFIEGO has been at the forefront of pushing for proper oil legislation and other reforms in Uganda. Together with partners, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Uganda Wild Life Society (UWS), AFIEGO is currently involved in implementing a five-year Ecosystem Alliance Programme (EA) in Buliisa, Hoima and Kasese. The high level conference is a part of the organization’s tireless empowerment efforts in this programme. The programme is funded by the Netherlands government through IUCN NL, WetLands International and Both Ends.

During the high level conference, participants will benefit from presentations by experts on constitutionalism, oil laws, environment, oil development options, civil society experiences from different countries, experiences of oil affected communities amongst other pertinent topics. The experts will discuss with participants and share knowledge on how the ongoing legal, policy and institutional developments in Uganda and the region affect the oil sector. Other invaluable partners in organising this conference include Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas, Global Rights Alert, World Voices Uganda, Ecological Christian Organisation, Centre for Constitutional Governance, Oil Watch Network-Uganda and Publish What You Pay Uganda.

AFIEGO and other partner CSOs in Uganda and beyond have continuously engaged government, parliament, local communities and other stake holders to ensure that Uganda’s oil is used to benefit the citizens- especially the downtrodden and vulnerable communities. These efforts have culminated into the enactment of the upstream and midstream laws and the tabling of the Public Finance Bill 2012 before Parliament. Also, government is currently undertaking reforms in other relevant sectors such as environment, wildlife, fishing and investment policy. Over time, AFIEGO has worked with MPs to prepare reports and analysis on these laws. Earlier this year, AFIEGO carried out research on the extent to which oil companies honour their Corporate Social Responsibility and how this has impacted oil communities. AFIEGO has been a trail blazer in representing indigent aggrieved citizens in court and mobilizing local communities to petition Parliament and government on oil and violation of human and environmental rights. These efforts have greatly influenced the discourse on oil and development in Uganda.
“This conference is an opportunity to extend the conversation beyond Uganda and strengthen links with neighboring countries to ensure that oil benefits all citizens and promote equitable development,” Kamugisha said.

For more information contact:
Dickens Kamugisha
CEO, AFIEGO
Phone: 256782407085
256702598368
Email:dkamugisha@afiego.org

Patience Akumu
Communications Officer, AFIEGO
Phone: 256712821622
Email: pakumu@afiego.org

AFIEGO statement to UETCL-March 2012

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STATEMENT ARISING FROM CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVITIES TO HELP LOCAL COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY THE INTERCONECTION POWER PROJECTS (UGANDA-KENYA AND UGANDA-RWANDA INTERCONECTION POWER PROJECTS, 12TH -22ND MARCH 2012

TO THE UETCL MANAGEMENT

1. Our statement is informed by the UETCL’s press release that was published in the New Vision of April 5th, 2012, entitled: “UETCL clarifies on compensation claims”. In the release, UETCL claims that AFIEGO is leading a group of civil society to mobilize project affected people along the project lines to reject compensation awards approved by the Chief Government Valuer.

That the AFIEGO group is inciting the public to be hostile to project officials and shun disclosure meetings. UETCL concludes that the actions of AFIEGO group border on sabotage of government programmes and is unacceptable.

2. We would like to respond to UETCL press release and share with you the concerns/suffering of the project affected people and above all inform you about our action programme to help our fellow citizens. It should be noted that this statement in addition to responding to your press release, it is also a detailed account of civil society’s efforts to ensure that power development projects lead to socio-economic development and benefit the poor and vulnerable communities. It is intended to inform and update UETCL’s management about our work and objectives to empower the citizens to appreciate and enjoy their rights.

About the project

3. We recognize that currently, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) through the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) is implementing two key initiatives aimed at guiding the development and trade of power in the NELSAP region – The Nile Basin Initiative Regional Power Trade Project (RPTP) and the NELSAP Power Program. In Uganda the project is being implemented through the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd, with two projects: the Uganda sections of the 172 km, 220 kV Mbarara-Mirama Hills (Uganda) – Shango (Rwanda) Electricity Interconnection Project and the 256 km, 220 kV Jinja (Uganda) – Lessos (Kenya) Electricity Interconnection Project. In this respect, UETCL has an obligation to ensure that the project’s success does not happen at expense of people’s rights. You must ensure justice and equity.

AFIEGO and partners

4. The Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) and partners take this opportunity to inform UETCL and entire government that we support the above project and will continue to make our possible contribution for the success of the project. However, the project must respect the citizens’ rights.

Our objectives

5. AFIEGO is a registered public policy research and advocacy nongovernmental organization whose main goal is to promote transparency and accountability in the management and utilization of energy resources for the common good, especially for the benefit of the down trodden people and vulnerable communities. Our work and contribution to the above project must be seen and interpreted from this public perspective as opposed to UETCL’s capitalistic approach.

6. While we appreciate that the above power projects are important for Uganda, we are concerned that the implementation processes are impacting on our fellow citizens especially the voiceless poor in the local communities negatively as will be seen in the observations below. There are these problems which compelled us to conduct the following activities: project rapid appraisal/assessment, the community dialogues, the stakeholders’ forum, and petitions to the Speaker of Parliament and Minister of Energy and, plans to file court cases.

Between 1st January and 22nd March, AFIEGO, UNDF and partners conducted a number of activities regarding the power projects including:

THE PARTICIPATORY RAPID APPRAISAL

7. A participatory rapid approaisal was conducted in the districts of Ntungamo, Mbarara, Jinja, Mayuge, Iganga, Bugiri and Tororo and its main objective was to document the implementation of the project processes regarding issues of compensation, valuation, grievance handling and others regarding the project affected local communities.

8. The appraisal was followed by community dialogues in Ntungamo, Iganga and Tororo and their main objectives were to help the Project-Affected people (PAP) to share their experiences regarding the project and also get updates from the project implementer/ UETCL, create awareness on community rights and responsibilities vis a vis the interconnection power project and, provide information to communities regarding all options available for grievance handling and if possible, get instructions to represent them in the courts of law.

9. The community dialogues were followed by a National Stakeholders Forum entitled: “The Nexus between Trans-boundary Power Projects in the Nile Basin and Community Livelihoods in Uganda”. It was organized on 22nd March 2012 at Fair way hotel and its main objective was to bring the problems and concerns of the local communities regarding the power projects to government and other policy makers’ attention for policy action.

10. The community dialogues in Ntungamo on 12th March, Iganga 15th March and Tororo 16th March were attended by a total of over 157 participants including 6 UETCL staff headed by Mr. Edward Mutesa and James Engaro. On the other hand, the stakeholder forum held on 22nd March at Fair Way Hotel in Kampala was opened and closed by Eng. Henry Bidasala. Bidasala represented the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), Hon. Irene Muloni. Over 74 participants attended the forum. In effect, we are working with both government and UETCL at every stage and its therefore surprising to see UETCL alleging that we are sabotaging development through inciting the suffering people.

11. The following observations/issues were raised by the participants in presence of UETCL staff and the energy ministry during the dialogues and the forum:

  • Secrecy: The communities where UETCL is implementing the project do not have accurate and timely information regarding the project. The UETCL staff who do evaluation and assessments just go to individual households with their documents written in English and tell people just to sign.
  • Intimidation: UETCL is using threatening language to intimidate the poor People (PAP) who don’t have the necessary information about the project and their rights to sign for compensation documents which they don’t understand the implications. They tell them to sign or else the government would take the property without any compensation because the law allows it.
  • Ignorance about the laws and policies: While its common law that ignorance of the law is no defense, we think, it is against public policy for UETCL/government to use laws and policies which the local communities don’t understand. People don’t know anything about the laws which provide and protect their rights and therefore live at the mercy of companies who are interested in profits rather than public good.
  • Poverty: Most of the people in the project areas are poor and have weak capacity to negotiate and protect their rights. Because of poverty, people are always willing to give up their property in exchange for anything.
  • Low Compensation rates: UETCL is using low rates to compensate the affected people. In some districts, for instance, Mbarara, UETCL used rates of Isingiro district to compensate Mbarara people which resulted in unfair compensation because Mbarara is a town based district while Isingiro is still a village where property is relatively cheaper.
  • Late payment of compensation and inflation: At the moment, UETCL has no specific time frame within which evaluation, assessment and compensation payments to the PAP must be effected. Payments take 2 or more years and when its done, they don’t consider inflation effects.
  • Absence of ERA offices and Electricity Dispute Tribunals (EDT) in the districts: While the law allows any person/people affected by UETCL actions to petition ERA or appeal to EDT, such services/offices are not in any of the affected districts. So, any person aggrieved who wants to challenge UETCL must come to Kampala where ERA and EDT offices are located. Most of the affected people cannot afford this and as a result, it leaves PAP at the mercy of UETCL and her informal purported resolution mechanisms (sub county resolution committees) which are always biased against people. And there are also lacking in most of the affected areas.
  • Expensive traditional courts: In absence of ERA and EDT offices to provide redress to the aggrieved, the affected people are expected to go to traditional courts for justice. However, the poor affected communities/people cannot afford the expensive and technical traditional courts. This is a violation of people’s right to justice.
  • Lack of involvement by the local leaders: UETCL does not officially involve local leaders such as district, Sub County, parish and others in the exercise.
  • Stopping the affected people from using their property before resettlement or payment of compensation: once UETCL has identified and assessed the property, they immediately tell the affected person/people not to do any further development on the said property. As result, people, for example who had started building cannot complete their houses and others cannot use their land for cultivation. As noted above, most of the UETCL exercises whether its assessment, compensation payments, etc take years and the people’s capacity to challenge such practices is lacking because of lack of information, lack of ERA and EDT offices in the communities, un-affordable court system and others, this is sinking people into more poverty, misery, food insecurity, etc.
  • UETCL makes affected people to sign but does not leave behind any copy to the affected person: in some cases, UETCL makes people sign on files and thereafter, take them away leaving no copy to the property owner. This is creating suspicion among the PAP that UETCL is doing it to change the records in the process because 2 or more years which UETCL take to complete the compensation processes is enough for people to forget.
  • Notice and marks to the property: While the law provides that a developer/licensee must mark the land/property he or she wants to take and give notice to the affected person, UETCL is not giving these notices. And its being abused. For example, in Ntungamo where UETCL plans to build a power station, the UETCL staff went and paid the land owner without giving him a notice specifying the exact part of the land they wanted. After paying, they entered the land in his absence and fenced off six acres in the middle of his cattle farm which has rendered the entire land useless. The person is planning to go to court.
  • Lack of participatory EIAs: UETCL has failed to ensure that people in the areas processes and this endangering their environment.
  • Lack of transparency by UETCL: UETCL is isolating communities/people using its individual disclosures which deny people an opportunity to speak and negotiate together to strengthen their voice to bargain for good compensation. UETCL is not open with information, payment time and others.

Recommendations that need action:

12. The following are recommendations by the project affected people which require immediate action from UETCL/government and:

a) UETCL should use current rates: government should ensure that UETCL and other developers always use only up to date/current rates of the year in which compensation is being paid and the rates of the affected district. No compensation exercise should take place in absence of up to date compensation rates.

b). Fix time for updating compensation rates: Government should use her powers to ensure that each district always put in place up to date compensation rates before every end of March, each year.

c). Sensitization of communities by the government: Government should educate and sensitize people on laws and policies to enable people know and protect their rights for effective development. Further, UECTL should also sensitize and provide accurate and timely information to the project affected people from the beginning up to the end of the project to avoid the ongoing suspicion and mistrust.

d). Time frame for compensation payments: Government should specify a time frame within which a person’s property is assessed and compensation paid. This time should not exceed four months and any delay beyond the period of 4 months should attract interest thereon.

e). Put in place assessment and compensation regulations: Government should put in place regulations for the assessment and compensation of affected people as required by section 20 of the Land Acquisition Act, cap 226.

f). UETCL give written notice and copies to the affected people: All PAPs should always be given a written notice with a sketch of the property, and a copy of any document where a PAP puts his or her signature.

g) Establish ERA branch offices in the affected districts: Government should establish ERA branch offices in each affected district at least to last until the end of a project to ensure effective regulation of licensees and access to justice to the PAP.

h). Establish Electricity Disputes Tribunals (EDT): Government should establish EDTs in the respective districts affected by the above power projects to enable people who are dissatisfied with ERA’s decisions to access affordable justice in form of appeals.

i). Affirmative action for the affected people: Government should design and integrate an affirmative action to enable PAPs to access affordable electricity as a reward for the inconvenience suffered by the PAP and their support of the electricity projects. This is the best way to ensure that such projects help communities fight poverty amongst themselves.

j). Conduct participatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): All projects should have EIAs where people especially the affected communities are involved and final reports translated into relevant local languages and distributed widely.

k). Ensure that every district in the country has a permanent district valuer.

l). Avoid stopping affected people from using their property: No project developer should have a say on a property where compensation has not been paid.

m). All people who feel dissatisfied by the UETCL’s compensation packages should reject the awards until their concerns are addressed.

n). Electricity Regulatory Authority and Electricity Disputes Tribunal should effectively deal with the complaints of affected people and, UETCL should not substitute them with their biased sub-county grievance resolution committees which have no legal basis/no force of law in Uganda

o). Investigate the actions of UETCL: Parliament should urgently investigate the actions of UETCL in the assessment and compensation processes regarding the above interconnection power projects to stop the ongoing violation of rights of the affected people by UETCL.

13. The action plan by the affected people, district leaders and facilitators to ensure the implementation of the above recommendations include the following:

AFIEGO to facilitate the PAP to present a petition containing the concerns and recommendations to the Speaker of Parliament and all the area MPs from the affected districts on 19th April 2012.
AFIEGO to facilitate the PAP to present a second copy of the petition containing the concerns and recommendations to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development and other relevant government agencies including ERA, UETCL, UEDCL, UEGCL and others on 20th April 2012.
AFIEGO help the affected people who are already injured by the project to file a case against UETCL and Attorney General under the Land Acquisition Act for compensation.
AFIEGO and UNDF to continue sensitizing the communities about their rights and obligations.

14. Actions being undertaken to achieve the above:

  • On 19th and 20th April, two groups, each with 30 project affected people will present petitions to the Speaker of Parliament and Minister of energy respectively at 11am. After submitting the petition, each group will hold a press conference.
  • On 24th April 2012, AFIEGO will help Mr. Charles Tumwesigye Kahiirwa and Jackson Karuhanga of P.O Box 1049, Mbarara whose Leasehold land comprised in LRV 1520, Folio 3 situate at Rwampara Block 53 Plot 15, Mbarara district measuring 60acres were on 13th April 2005 misadvised by UETCL which resulted into the two tenants in common losing 6 acres of land to UETCL. UETCL took this land from the owners under the disguise of compensation but did not give the owners notice regarding the affected land and neither did they give a sketch of the land that was subject of compensation as required by the Electricity Act 1999 and Land Acquisition Act, cap 226.
  • On 26th June 2012, if the affected people fail to get justice/solution from the government and Parliament or UETCL fails to listen to the suffering of the affected people, AFIEGO will help the affected people to petition the African Development Bank and the World Bank for help. We shall also file a case with the East African Court of Justice.
  • In the meantime, AFIEGO will continue to empower the people, provide legal advice to the project affected people and work with government, UETCL, ERA and others to solve all the problems for the good of the people and the success of the project.

For God and my country