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Land

  • Lands ministry moves to protect customary rights in oil region

    Following widespread land wrangles in the oil-rich Albertine region, the Ministry of Lands has announced plans to resolve this through guidelines to aid in compensation of customary land owners.

    “It is crucial at the moment since people’s rights are at stake and we have the responsibility of protecting the poor and their property. We therefore have to put in place guidelines to ensure that those big oil companies and investors have an arrangement to adhere to and operate within the laws,” Ministry spokesman, Dennis Obbo, told Oil in Uganda. Read More

  • Image: Geoffrey Kiwedde, LC II for Kabaale Parish

    Refinery site residents remain in limbo, and some go hungry

    Geoffrey Kiwedde, LC II for Kabaale Parish (Photo: F. Womakuyu)

    KABAALE PARISH, HOIMA DISTRICT: Kyapaloni village is deserted. The crowds in the once bustling marketplace are no more. Some homes are shut up, bushes have besieged others, and the gardens are empty of the crops they once boasted.

    “The government has told us to begin packing our property and not to grow crops that take more than three months to mature. They said we shall be re-located from this place anytime soon to pave way for the refinery,” says Geoffrey Kiwedde, a Local Councillor II for Kabaale Parish in Buseruka sub-county of Hoima District.

    Kiwedde still doesn’t know when he will have to move or when he will receive compensation for the 18 acres of land that he will give up. Read More

  • “We were cheated!” say brothers. “They’re opportunists!” say officials.

    KANARA SUB-COUNTY, NTOROKO DISTRICT:  Two brothers in this recently created district accuse local officials of leasing to international oil companies land that their family had inherited—but the officials deny any wrongdoing, claiming that the brothers are “opportunists” trying to cash in on oil wealth.

    Edward Tibamwenda and Sam Kato, blood brothers who live mainly from fishing on the southern shores of Lake Albert, claim that in 2005 Bundibugyo District officials leased five acres of their family’s land to Heritage Oil and Gas.  The family, the brothers say, was neither consulted nor compensated. Read More

  • Land, oil and dispossession

    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

  • Disputed land at Kigorobya

    Internal Security Officer named in Hoima land dispute

    A murram road cuts through the disputed 1,205 hectares of Kigorobya range and farmland. (Photo: S. Wandera)

    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.

    Read More

  • Refinery resettlement study on track, says contractor

    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

  • Image: Eriakimi Kaseegu

    Thugs attack Buliisa villagers who say their land was stolen

    Eriakimi Kaseegu, LC 1 Chair for Kasenyi village, says he was beaten and arrested in May, after contesting the unlawful sale of community land. (Picture: F. Womakuyu)

    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

  • 1955 Bunyoro Agreement signing

    Colonial agreement on resources still stands, says Bunyoro king

    September, 1955: Omukama Sir Tito Gafabusa Winyi IV and Sir Andrew Cohen, Governor of the Uganda Protectorate, sign a ‘Bunyoro Agreement’ that, the kingdom claims, remains valid today. (Picture: www.san-luigi.org)

    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

  • No development plan for the oil region, officials admit

    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

  • Image: proposed refinery site

    Kabaale: the human prequel to a refinery complex

    Proposed site for Uganda’s oil refinery: sparsely inhabited, yet full of human complexity (Picture: T. White)

    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