Several families affected by the proposed oil pipeline project in Rakai and Kyotera districts want the government, Total-Uganda and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Co. Ltd to halt the compensation plan over Ghost Landlords and conduct a verification exercise to avoid paying ghost claimants.
The families sight numerous irregularities that were concealed by New Plan Ltd and ICS Engineering and Environment Ltd during the valuation process and the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) when information about the people to be compensated was displayed in public places.
Some families were not considered for compensation yet their land was taken by EACOP while information of the titles of some of the families has been altered and new administrators and landlords included.
The family of the late Sereyi Buzinde in Kabaale village, Butiti parish, Lwanda sub-county in Rakai district, is among those in dilemma. According to Ali Ssengero, who represents the family, in 2018 EACOP acquired a portion of their land comprising Block 83 measuring one square mile for the pipeline without engaging them.
He says that the RAP disclosure exercise in 2021 indicated that all the squatters on Buzinde’s family land had a ghost landlord in the name of Mr Kazindaki who also happened to be listed as the rightful owner of the said land yet the records in the land registration system still indicate the Late Sereyi Buzinde as the landlord.
The family petitioned Martin Tiffen, the General Manager-EACOP, for intervention but to no avail. In their February 9, 2022 petition, the family appeals to Tiffen to cancel Kazindaki and consider Buzinde’s family for compensation as the rightful owners.
Ssengero, says that the family took a formal complaint to different district authorities for intervention and assistance but they declined to help them. He says that Rakai Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, LC5 chairperson, RDC, the Internal Security Officer (ISO) and pledged to support the family but they have remained silent on the matter.
In Nabigasa sub-county in Kyotera district, some of the residents have lost their land to the project despite the fact that they are not registered for compensation. Fred Lubowa, a resident of Luseese village, says that his family was also affected by the pipeline but they have not been considered for compensation.
He says they were nowhere in the valuation and RAP disclosure only to be told that their issue is still complex and will be handled later.
His two houses, kitchen, underground water tank and the graveyard are within the pipeline route but he has no hope of getting compensation yet he cannot proceed with any development on the land.
In the same dilemma, Assimwe Kitayimbwa of Kituntu village was not considered for compensation after taking his land. He says that New Plan officials claimed that there was a dispute over his land and the matter was in the court yet there was nothing of the sort.
Richard Birimuye, another PAP in Betereemu, says his brick quarry was affected by the pipeline but it was left out of the compensation plan and he is suffering to provide for his family after being stopped from using it.
Yisito Kayinga Muddu, a Human Rights Defender and Coordinator-Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE), explains there has been a violation of people’s rights at every stage of the pipeline process.
He says that the valuation exercise was hastily done leaving several issues unsolved and urged Total and EACOP to consider a verification exercise to clean the list of the compensation to avoid bloodshed.
Samuel Ssekamwa, the Rakai LC5 chairperson, declined our requests for comment on the matter. Edward Kamya Kabuye, the Rakai Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, says they received the concern and they are following.
However, Catherine Barasa, the Social Lead Coordinator for EACOP, explains that the petition and concerns were received and asked for some more time for their team to handle it.
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