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Pipeline route surveys spark fear amongst Hoima residents

A recently concluded survey to determine a pipeline route from the proposed refinery in Kabaale Parish to Buloba, Wakiso district, close to the capital Kampala, has left a section of Hoima residents worried they could lose their land.

Fred

A volunteer delivers food aid to a displaced family in Rwamutonga, Hoima District. People are suspicious of any infrastructure projects in Hoima that involve land acquisition for fear of inadequate compensation usually due to badly implemented Resettlement Plans.

At least 200 residents are now planning to petition government to have a dialogue with them before any decisions over their land are taken.

Government commenced studies in June last year for a likely route for a pipeline that will bring refined products from the proposed refinery in Hoima to a distribution terminal in Buloba. The study is being carried out by Newplan Uganda and Ramboll, a Danish firm.

Julie Kintu Nansikombi, one of the consultants from Newplan Uganda, said the studies are looking at an ideal route that will accommodate two pipelines, one for crude and the other one for refined products.

Oil in Uganda has learnt that during the exercise, surveyors met resistance from sections of residents in Kiziranfumbi Sub-County who demanded that government consults and compensates them before encroaching on their land. The Surveyors were passing through the proposed route of the pipeline installing mark points to prepare for an aerial survey that was conducted last month.

According to the Kiziranfumbi Sub-County Chairman, Francis Bwesigye, the Surveyors met resistance in Kikyaya, Rumongi and Kikube villages where the villagers were suspicious of their motive.

David Atuhura, the Buhimba Sub-County Chairperson where five villages were surveyed told Oil in Uganda the residents demanded that government carries out an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and produce a clear Resettlement Plan before construction of the pipeline kicks off.

The 210 Km pipeline is likely to be constructed through the districts of Hoima, Kyankwanzi, Kiboga, Mityana, Wakiso and Mpigi. It will require a utility corridor about 110 meters wide for the construction of vital infrastructure including a 132 Kilo Voltage (KV) power transmission line between Hoima and Kampala, and a 65-meter wide dual carriage highway.

However, according to the Energy Ministry’s Lands Officer, Francis Elugant, the affected people will be consulted before any resettlement is carried out.

“We are determining the route, then do the Resettlement Action Plan that will determine the people eligible for compensation. We can’t compensate before knowing the people and properties to be affected,” said Elungat.

Meanwhile, Strategic Friends International (SFI) has been selected to conduct the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the pipeline project. The firm was in charge of implementing the yet-to-be-fully-concluded RAP for the refinery project that was characterized by numerous complaints from the beneficiaries.

Report by our Hoima Correspondent

editor@oilinuganda.org