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Police intervenes in refinery area women case

Evelyn Mwambe (Right) and Rogelin Pachudaga (Photo: F. Mugerwa)

Evelyn Mwambe (Right) and Rogelin Pachudaga (Photo: F. Mugerwa)

Barely a month after Oil in Uganda reported the plight of two women who were abandoned by their husbands after receiving compensation for their land in the refinery area in Hoima, police has intervened and summoned their husbands.

Grace Bigabwenkya who heads the Child and Family Protection Unit in Hoima told Oil in Uganda that her office got involved after learning about the matter and summoned the two estranged husbands.

After prolonged negotiations mediated by the police, Ajarova Adoki, the husband to Rogelin Pachudaga agreed to give some of the compensation money to his wife and build her a new house as well. “He regretted having abandoned his wife and children but blamed the wife for refusing to relocate from Nyamasoga village to Kyabanati village where he bought another piece of land,” Bigabwenkya said.

Pachudaga had initially demanded for two million shillings ($700) to pay off debts she has been incurring to look after their children but later settled for half the amount. “We have a commitment letter signed by Adoki indicating that he will build a house for his wife and purchase for her a two acre piece of land before the end of this month,” revealed Bigabwenkya.

However, Lawrence Ocowun, husband to 37-year old Evelyn Mwambe, snubbed the police summons, forcing the police to hunt him down, eventually arresting him in Biiso sub-county, Buliisa District.

In the negotiations that ensued, Mrs. Mwambe, who confessed to not knowing how much her husband received in compensation last year, wanted the money split equally but in the end, she settled for a paltry six hundred thousand shillings ($200). “He finally agreed and paid six hundred thousand shillings to Mwambe as upkeep and promised to pay school fees for their two children,” said Bigabwenkya. Mwambe insists that her husband must fulfil his promise to build for her a permanent home, start a business and educate their children.

Several families in the refinery area have broken up over the compensation money, with most of the cases resulting from men refusing to share the money with their spouses.

The seventy billion shillings ($27 million) compensation project has been criticised by civil society organisations for not being gender sensitive, often neglecting to involve women in the initial processes. The exercise is expected to end this year, with the 2473 residents being physically relocated or receiving cash compensations depending on their preference.

Report by our Hoima Correspondent