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Embattled oil waste company leaving Uganda

Fred

Over 1200 people are living in a camp as they await a court decision on whether they can return to the land. Here, an official from ActionAid Uganda is pictured handing over food items to women in the camp in December last year.

The embattled oil waste management company that has been in the news for its involvement in a land deal gone bad in Hoima that left almost 200 families homeless has decided to cease operations in Uganda.

According to a senior official of the U.S based McAlester Energy Resources Ltd, the company has relocated to Kenya.

Speaking to Oil in Uganda by phone from USA, Leonard Durst, McAlester’s Operations Manager, admitted that the land scandal was the company’s major reason for leaving Uganda.

McAlester was thrust at the center of a nasty land wrangle when it acquired land from one Joshua Tibangwa in Rwamutonga village, Hoima district, where the company planned to set up an oil waste management facility.

However, disputes arose over the true ownership of the land, culminating in the forceful eviction of over 1200 people by Tibangwa. The evicted residents are now living in a temporary camp as they wait for Court to decide their fate.

The company has taken a beating from civil society organisations, local leaders, MPs and the oil companies over the manner in which the residents were evicted. Oil companies too distanced themselves from the scandal, maintaining that they would not work with any service provider that violated rights of host communities in oil-producing areas.

“We have totally pulled out of the country. The reason is because our name has been tarnished and reverting our reputation will not be that easy,” Durst told Oil in Uganda.

According to Durst, the company is now seeking to recover the $300,000 it paid to Tibangwa for the land.

Report by Flavia Nalubega

editor@oilinuganda.org