Kibiro spillage affected residents demand compensation

Children playing at the abandoned house which was filled with spillage from the temperature gradient hole. On the left are abandoned fish nets blackened by the spillage while on the right is a pile of sand pushed by the spillage. Photo: David Livingstone Ayebale

Local residents whose houses and fishing gears were damaged while goats and chicken lost during the geothermal exploration activities at Lake Albert’s Kibiro Fishing Village in Kigorobya Sub-county, Hoima District want government to compensate them.

The residents suffered the damage and loss during the drilling of the eighth and last low temperature gradient well when a blow-out occurred on the night of March 29, 2020, resulting into an uncontrolled discharge of gas, drilling fluids, geothermal fluids and sediments.

The blow-out that lasted for eight hours ran over a fowl cage, a goat pen, a pit latrine and a house belonging to Mr Julius Kiiza and damaged his and Mr Noah Kyalimpa’s fish nets among other people.

Ms Claire Kyosaba, 29, daughter to Mr Kiiza says the explosion that started at around 8pm to 3am featured a black fume silhouette, raging flames and a roaring sound which sent a smelly hot spill from the temperature gradient holes into her father’s property losing all the chicken and a great deal of goats and fish nets.

Download audio: Kyosaba on blast (Runyoro/Rutooro)
Ms Claire Kyosaba says her sick father lost all chicken to the leakage and was left with few goats. Photo: John Kibego

Mr Yofesi Babyesiza, brother to Mr Kiiza says government should either relocate or compensate them like it was done in Kenya where the ministry took key stakeholders for a tour to geothermal power facilities in Naivasha.

Download audio: Babyesiza on compensation [Runyoro/Rutooro]
Mr Noah Kyalimpa points at one of the cracks that developed on his house following the strong vibration of an excavator that was covering the temperature gradient hole at Kibiro Village in Kigorobya Sub-county, Hoima District. Credit: John Kibego

Mr Kyalimpa says his house developed cracks when M/S Royal Techno Industries Limited-contractor of drilling the temperature gradient holes used an excavator to cover the blown-out hole with soil.

He said the excavator passed near his house exerting strong vibrations on the ground that damaged his house.

Now, he wants government to compensate him or relocate all the affected persons.

Download audio: Kyalimpa on damage [Runyoro/Rutooro]

The Kibiro Village Chairman, Mr Godfrey Bitagase Abigaba, says government officials and the affected family met twice although the two sides failed to agree in both meetings. Mr Abigaba says the affected family excluded him from the meetings on suspicion that he was allegedly colluding with government to fail them.  

However, the chairman attributes the systemic non-compensation to the residents’ initial laxity to engage the government.

However again, he says the authorities promised him that the residents will be compensated once the current wave of coronavirus crunch is over.

Download audio: Abigaba on compensation [Runyoro/Rutooro]

Royal Techno Industries Limited, a Kampala-based was to drill eight low temperature gradient wells in Kibiro

Faced with this situation, the ministry decided to halt drilling activities of temperature gradient wells at Kibiro, Panyimur and Buranga in Hoima, Pakwach and Bundibugyo districts respectively where hot springs exist until a comprehensive environmental and social impact assessment has been conducted in accordance with the new National Environment Law No 5 of 2019, under which the ministry undertakes to resolve any conflict arising from this incident.

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