This overview of the connections between oil and land in Uganda was written for the second issue of our quarterly newsletter, now in print.
By an unfortunate twist of fate, Uganda’s oil and many other mineral resources lie beneath some of the poorest and most marginalised areas of the country. According to the 1995 Constitution, the state holds these resources in trust for the people; but the great risk is that they will be captured by predatory elites, rather than used for the benefit of the people as a whole. Read More
A senior official in Uganda’s Internal Security Organization (ISO), Major Herbert Asiimwe Muramagi, has been named in a complex land dispute in oil-rich Hoima District where, some locals allege, in April of last year he bought 1,200 hectares of land from an entity that had no right to sell it.
Members of the community in Kisukuma Parish, Kigorobya sub-county, further allege that when they resisted demands to vacate the land for the new owner they were beaten and arrested by armed police and soldiers.
When contacted by telephone on July 4, however, Major Muramagi—who is Maritime Director of the ISO, responsible for security on Lake Albert —denied involvement. “It is all lies. I do not own any land in Hoima and I have never owned land in Hoima,” he told Oil in Uganda.
A firm contracted by the government to design a resettlement and compensation package for people displaced by the Hoima oil refinery project expects to conclude its initial study this week, according to the contractor, Strategic Friends International (SFI).
“We are finishing a field study of the area this week. We shall then embark on writing up the findings and hand over the final resettlement study to the government in September,” Koseya Wambaka, SFI’s head of operations, told Oil in Uganda. Read More
KASENYI, BULIISA DISTRICT Months after the central government tried to quell land speculation in oil-rich Bunyoro by suspending the issue of new land titles, Oil in Uganda visited Kasenyi, on the north eastern shores of Lake Albert, and unearthed a tale of double-dealing and thuggery seemingly abetted by district leaders and security officials.
Eriakimi Kaseegu, the Kasenyi Local Council One Chairman, revealed that community land–including the plot where Tullow Oil’s Kasemene 3 well is located–was fraudulently sold by “outsiders” and that the community’s efforts to investigate the sale were met with violence and arbitrary arrests. Read More
In an exclusive interview with Oil in Uganda, the Omukama (King) of Bunyoro, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, and his principal private secretary, Yoram Nsamba, continue to press the kingdom’s claims for a much larger share in oil revenues than the central government appears ready to grant.
They argue that a 1955 agreement between the then colonial Governor of Uganda and the then Omukama guarantees the kingdom a substantial share in revenues from mineral resource extraction and continues to have legal validity.
They add that international oil companies have promised much by way of support for the Bunyoro region, but that this has translated into “negligible” action. They further complain that outsiders are “distorting our culture.”
Key excerpts appear below, followed by a historical note putting the 1955 agreement in context. Read More
As midwestern Uganda gears up for oil production that will entail billions of dollars in investments, a range of central government officials interviewed by Oil in Uganda admit that there is no overall development plan for the region, and no mechanism for coordinating the efforts of different departments. Read More
Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development sources confirm that they have commissioned a private company to design a compensation and resettlement package for residents of Kabaale parish, in Hoima District’s Buseruka sub-county, who will be displaced by the 29 square kilometre refinery complex to be built there.
It’s not going to be an easy job for the consultants.
Since the discovery of oil, the trickle of informal settlers has been swollen by a veritable tide of hopefuls. Many of them have taken up fishing on Lake Albert.
Now, as news of the refinery spreads, longer term residents tell Oil in Uganda that more people are arriving every day, hoping to catch some crumbs from the compensation cake.
Land tenure in the area is largely informal, relying on deals with local leaders and between private individuals, so it will be no simple matter to work out who ‘owns’ what.
The five pen-portraits that follow illustrate the human complexity of an area that will soon be covered in concrete. Read More
BUSERUKA, HOIMA DISTRICT: Lawrence Ozelle pushes aside his tool box and steps forward to confront us as we photograph Kyapaloni market—a trading centre in Kabaale parish, Buseruka sub-county, some twenty kilometre west of Hoima town
“Who are you people?” he demands. “Do you want to steal our land?”
Ever since oil was discovered nearby, the locals say, they have had no peace. Strangers come to Kabaale on a daily basis. Some promise development, while others come and go quietly.
Before a drop of Uganda’s oil has been produced for sale, the small and once sleepy town of Masindi, 40 kilometres from the prospective oilfields of Butiaba, is bustling with investment and anticipation. Hopes are high—but so are prices, as demand soars for land and services. Property developers and service industries are reporting quick profits, but Oil in Uganda staff writers found losers as well as winners in this boom town in the making.
MASINDI, March 12, 2102: Fifty-year-old farmer, Yoram Kwebiihe, who has toiled all his life on his 15-acre farm, growing mainly maize and beans for home consumption and selling a small surplus, cannot believe his luck. Read More