The Tilenga oil Project Affected Persons (PAPs) have been given an ultimatum of one month to receive their compensation funds or forcibly lose their land for oil development.
More than 620 people at Kasenyi village in Ngwedo sub-county, Buliisa district lost their properties when the government acquired 320 hectares of land for the impending establishment of the Central Processing Facility (CPF).
The CPF will be used to process crude oil that will be produced from the field of Buliisa and Nwoya districts to extract water, gas and other impurities prior to being transported to the refinery at Kabaale village in Kabaale sub-county, Hoima district.
However, some of the PAPs rejected the compensation, protesting that the government offered them a low rate for their land and other properties. Some of the PAPs were offered between Shs3.5 and Shs5m per acre of land in 2017 while others demanded to be given between Shs10m and Shs20m per acre of land.
They also refused government attempts to settle them in areas that are devoid of social services like health, education and economic facilities.
Such a scenario compelled some PAPs to drag the government to court.
Presiding over the handover ceremony of more than 105 houses constructed for some PAPs at Kirama village in Kigwera sub-county, Buliisa district, Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Dr Ruth Nankabirwa on Monday, issued a one-month ultimatum to PAPs who rejected the money.
She warned that the government does not have an alternative way but to forcibly take over the land in case the PAPs reject the compensation money.
The minister said the government will not tolerate any delays in the progress of the oil and gas sector beyond July 31, cautioning all PAPs who have rejected compensation money due to various factors to cooperate with the government and accept to be compensated as per the compensation rate adopted by the government chief valuer.
“Beyond July 31, the government will forcefully access and establish oil related projects on all the pieces of land acquired for oil development in Buliisa and the entire Bunyoro sub-region. Government will deposit the money for the PAPs who have rejected the compensation with courts of law and take over the land forcefully,” the minister said.
Ms Nankabirwa said the government is ready to be sued to court rather than succumbing to the PAPs to continue frustrating the oil and gas developments.
She revealed that the government has up to now failed to trace six PAPs while 27 PAPs are embroiled in family wrangles on who ought to receive the compensation money in the Tilenga project.
The Tilenga project that will accommodate the CPF that will process 190,000 barrels of oil and 700,000 barrels of total liquid per day, needs land for 426 well pads, 160km of flow lines which will transport crude oil and water from the wells to the CPF among others.
TotalEnergies EP Uganda General Manager, Mr Phillipe Groueix, expressed the company’s commitment to undertake the development of the Tilenga oil project while observing human rights standards.
He said the company is also committed to supporting and contributing towards the social and economic development of the host communities living in the vicinity of TotalEnergies activities, especially the Tilenga PAPs.
The Buliisa district woman Member of Parliament, Ms Norah Bigirwa Nyendwoha, urged the government to empower and prepare women in the district and the entire Bunyoro sub-region to supply the oil industry.
The Buliisa District Local Government Chairman, Mr Fred Lukumu, called for the establishment of a vocational skilling institute to enable the youths and other people to acquire the requisite skills and knowledge to enable them to be employed in the oil and gas sector.
He attributed the unemployment of the youth in the district to the oil and gas industry to lack of such skills.