Thursday, December 12th, 2019 | By
Poor and delayed compensation has frustrated the livelihoods of the residents affected by Central Processing Facility (CPF) in Ngwedo Sub County in Buliisa district.
Government acquired land measuring about 310 hectares which will host CPF, access road and base camp during the petroleum activities, according to the Resettlement Action Plan, leaving over 700 people affected.
According to Ngwedo Sub County Chairperson, Steven KaliisaMunange, compensation for property has been marred by delays and low rates, which has adversely affected residents especially women, who derive their livelihood from agriculture.
He explains, “Three years down the road, government has gone silent on 8 people who preferred cash compensation for their land after rejecting 3.5 million shillings per acre. Those who preferred land to land compensation have waited in vain while those who were compensated for crops and property were inadequately compensated.”
Margret Nyakato, 42, a mother of 8 says she was given 20 million shillings as compensation for the crops and a single roomed house which is undergoing construction.
She says she thought the money given to her would help her acquire her own land but due to delayed compensation, the money found her in debts. She says she has now resorted to selling firewood for survival since she has nowhere to cultivate.
She also wonders how she will stay in a single roomed house constructed to her with the 8 children.
“I had my cassava, oranges and jack fruit trees which I would sell and get school fees and income. But now I am stuck that’s why I have resorted to selling firewood. They stopped us from cultivating early yet they delayed to compensate us. This left me with no other option but get a loan so when the compensation money came, it cleared the loan and I remained with nothing,” Nyakato explained.
Margret Asiimwe, 52, says she was supposed to get a house and cash compensation for the land but has since waited in vain despite being stopped from using the land. She says she is now surviving on selling firewood and grass for food since she has nowhere to go.
“I am affected twice. I am HIV positive and my land was taken away from me. Why can’t government give me my money so that I can buy land for my children before I die?” she said.
For Dorothy Mbabazi, who preferred land to land compensation, government identified land which was rejected by residents saying it was not fertile. She says since then, government has remained silent.
“I don’t know whether government has forgotten us or when they will help us. They should rather let us use the land since it is lying idle until they start using it,” she said.
Kaliisa says Ngwedo is the main food basket for the entire district since it is the only area for agriculture. He says tampering with agricultural land in the area affects food security in the entire district.
He suggests that since the land that was acquired for the pipeline was idle, government should allow the affected residents to continue using the land until they get set to start the developments.
Alice Kazimura, the Executive Directive for Kakindo Orphans Care, a local advocacy group that works with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) says they continue to advocate for the rights of communities by engaging government and oil companies. She says they are also sensitizing women to come up with alternative income generating activities apart from selling grass and firewood