HOIMA – It was all relief and jubilation for the 127 persons whose land was acquired to pave way for the construction of the Oil refinery in Buseruka-Hoima.
These project-affected persons (PAPs) who are now residents of Kyakabooga Resettlement Area received their land titles after waiting for close to 10 years. The beneficiaries received two land titles; one for their farmland and another for their homes
Speaking at the ceremony held on May 19, State Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Mr Peter Lokeris, urged the beneficiaries not to sell their property but rather preserve them for future generations.
“There is no individual or institution that has not received their land titles after being displaced by oil activities in this area. Whether church, police station or school; all have received their land titles and they are with them. I advise individual resettled PAPs to keep their land titles well for the future because they are evidence that they own their properties in a lawfully recognised manner,” Mr Lokeris said.
Mr Michael Kyakashari, the Hoima deputy Resident District Commissioner, also appealed to the resettled PAPs to use the land titles to position themselves so that they can benefit from the oil and gas in the area.
Ms Christine Nyangoma, one of the residents that received the land titles, appreciated the Non-government organizations such as Global Rights Alert (GRA) that have consistently advocated for their rights until they got their compensation.
“This is such a relief because before this, we could not access loans for school fees or even when our children fell sick because we did not have titles for surety. I am also one of the people that had been affected by EACOP but undervalued because of lack of a land title. I am now going to appeal for better compensation,” she said.
Ms Winfred Ngabiirwe, the Executive Director, Global Rights Alert (GRA) said that receiving land titles provides land tenure security in an area that is characterized by land conflicts and unnecessary eviction.
She explained that it will go a long way in assisting families that have been affected by other oil development infrastructure to negotiate for fair compensation for their land and property on it since they are now landowners and not merely users.
“In a developing economy, these titles are important in securing resources such as loans from credible institutions that can support their trade.”
Having walked this journey with the affected persons for the past 10 years, Ms Ngabiirwe said that at a family level, she knows that this means a lot to the men and women that have been anxiously waiting.
Mr Honey Malinga, a geophysicist and Director Petroleum at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, revealed that the government through the line ministries processed and offered 127 out of 133 land titles to the resettled PAPs.
He said the six PAPs that are yet to receive their land titles do not have any national identification cards which are needed to authenticate their eligibility to get compensation.
The event was attended by representatives from Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, District Land Board, the Ministry of Land, oil companies of TotalEnergies and CNOOC, the Ministry of Energy and the local community.
The residents were displaced from Kabaale Parish in Hoima district in 2012 to make way for the refinery and Hoima International Airport that are under construction.