Since 2018, the government has not compensated the project-affected persons yet they stopped using their land. The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) had also promised to start compensation in December 2020 or early January 2021.
Residents are bitter that the stone quarrying activities have caused huge damage to their houses, animals and plants, leaving them in poverty. The most affected areas include Lule, Kanyogogga, Nsaka, Ssebagala and Lugono villages in Semuto town council.
The Adhoc committee on land compensation led by Veronica Eragu Bichetero has been investigating the compensation of property owners by the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development in Bunyoro and Buganda regions.
“Persons found to have fraudulently reclaimed properties for which they had already been compensated should not only lose the property but also be prosecuted for misrepresentation, obtain property by false pretence and fraudulent acquisition of property,” the report reads.
Veronica Eragu Bichetero, the Committee Chairperson asked the commission members to avail a three-year compensation list, but the commission pleaded to say they have none and searching for the files were difficult.
Norbert Mao, the DP president General, says that the party is vigilant about what is going on under this project.
He says they intend to use their party branches in the affected districts to ensure that they fight for the rights of the property owners and ensure they get adequate and timely compensation.
The Bamba-Babwisi people occupied about 125 square kilometres of land covering areas near the Saara stream to River Semuliki through River Lamia to the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Some of them settled in areas within Bwamba county within Bundibugyo district.
The concern was raised by members of the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament who are currently visiting parts of western Uganda, to study the extent of power penetration in the areas of Masaka, Mbarara, Kasese and Fort Portal, among others. They are bothered that some projects which were launched in 2014 have not yet started.
According to Hamada Mayanja, the father to Kakwezi and Mbabazi, the Kaliba family, Mitala’s father and the two parliamentary staff met in a closed-door meeting at Mountains of the Moon Hotel in Fort Portal to discuss an out-of-court settlement since the families of the victims were already pursuing the case.
“After the war, ISO promised to give Mr Mugisa 8 million shillings to enable him rehabilitate himself. However, up to now, this poor man has not yet received anything and he is now a laughing stock before the Movement detractors,” reads Jacob Asiimwe’s letter
Investigations conducted by the Deputy Inspector General of Government, George Bamugemereire in 2019 unearthed irregularities. The report also faulted some Ministry of land officials for attempting to compensate ghost landowners with the aim of causing government a financial loss.
The now aged citizens, some already eighty years old, decided to draft a terminal benefits compensation claim of 10 billion Shillings. On average, each would be paid sh2.8 million for all those years, a mere three days' pay for a Member of Parliament.
Enock Ariga Marindi, another resident notes that the entire compensation process is shrouded in mystery, saying the ministry has deliberately hidden information from them. He says only a few have been compensated but no one can tell the criteria used to decide who receives the money.