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Aggrieved refinery residents to sue government

Some of the Kabale Parish residents who turned up to register their complaints about the compesation process

Some of the Kabale Parish residents who turned up to register their complaints about the compensation process last year. Some of them are now threatening to sue the government.

Some of the aggrieved residents of Kabaale parish, Hoima district who are dissatisfied with the ongoing compensation have issued a notice threatening to sue the Attorney General of Uganda, accusing the government of violating their rights and awarding them inadequate compensation.

86 residents signed the notice which was delivered to the attorney General by their lawyers, Bemanyisa &Co. Advocates.

“We are giving the Attorney General 14 days to respond to our notice,” said Bemanyisa Adonijah, Managing Partner at the firm. “We are not going to register it as a civil claim and wait for 45 days.”

The residents are angry that those that opted for relocation have not yet been resettled, while those who rejected the compensation because it was inadequate have also been ignored.

However, Benon Tusingwire, a local community worker in Hoima told Oil in Uganda that the move was intended to initiate further negotiation with the government, rather than following through with the legal process.

“We want to engage government and not rush to court,” he said. “But if it fails, then we shall go to court and ensure peoples’ rights are observed.”

The refinery spokesperson, Bashir Hangi, could not comment on the matter, arguing that his Ministry had not yet received a copy of the residents’ intention to sue.

“I don’t know what is entailed in the documents,” he said. “Besides, if they served the Attorney General, then I still cannot comment.”

Government is currently compensating 2473 residents that own land and property in Kabaale parish, Hoima district, and they will soon leave the area to make way for the country’s first crude oil refinery.

However the process has been marred with controversy, with local civil society groups accusing the government of offering unfair compensation. But government maintains that the process is being handled according to international best practices and those complaining are merely ‘saboteurs’.

Consequently, some civil society leaders have been black-listed by the State, allegedly for inciting the local population in the oil producing areas.

Report by Beatrice Ongode

editor@oilinuganda.org