Oil: residents demand market access road on refinery land

Mr Paulo Oundo, the Katooke Village Chairman in Kabaale Sub-county, Hoima District speaks out problems affecting the residents during a meeting organised by HOCADEO.

Residents of Katooke Village in Kabaale Sub-county, Hoima District are calling upon the SBC – a company contracted to construct Hoima International Airport to reopen their access road to Nyamasoga market.

Residents claim that the closure of their access road through the refinery land especially when airport construction started has frustrated the transportation of their agricultural produce to Nyamasoga market.

When they attempt to maneuver to access the market via Kaayera, they incur extra transport costs and delays especially during rainy seasons.

The blocking of the access road is estimated to have increased their journey to the nearest and reliable Nyamasoga market by at least four kilometres.

During a community dialogue in Katooke village on Monday, one of the residents, Mr Gideon Akankwasa, said the obstruction has lowered the value of their agricultural produce since even traders who would buy it from their homes find it disturbing to rotate around the refinery land.

“Even when we want to go to Hoima city to sell our produce, it is bothersome and we reach when we are very dirty due to a poor road network,” he says.

Mr Paulo Oundo, the village chairman, confirms the challenge as real and affecting business in the area.

He says despite having found the road in use prior to the project, the contractors have ignored the plea to open it or provide an appropriate alternative.

 “When a parent does not look after a child properly and the child develops health and hygienic problems; it is the parent to blame,” he says.

Residents attend a meeting organised by HOCADEO at Katooke Village in Kabaale Sub-county, Hoima District.

The alternative markets are Buseruka in Buseruka sub-county, Hoima district and Butimba in Kiziranfumbi sub-county, Kikuube district which are far distant compared with Nyamasoga despite the current challenges.

The Hoima District Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Ms Evelyn Busiinge, attributes the entire epic to an upward-downward information gap that has left the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) unhappy.

“Make use of your local leaders like councillors and the sub-county chairman and parish chief to advocate for your grievances. However, remember that it can’t be worked on overnight since it requires procedures and discussions,” she says.

Mr Hassan Kugonza, the Kabaale Sub-county Chairman, says he talked to the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) officials who said they had plans under way to declare an appropriate alternative as soon as possible.

When contacted for a comment, Mr Amos Muriisa, the SBC Public Relations Officer, said the community demand is above their mandate but they had submitted it to Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) and it was being worked on.

Before this engagement, Mr Robert Mukondo, the UNOC Community Relations Officer, told a community meeting at Kabaale that the government was working on a comprehensive approach to address that grievance along with others including sustainable water supply designs for the betterment of both directly and indirectly project affected persons.

He acknowledged they had a grievance on their table.

The community dialogue was organised by Hoima Caritas Development Organisation (HOCADEO) in partnership with Mid-western Region Anti-Corruption Coalition (MIRAC) and Global Rights Alert among other organisations under Bunyoro Coalition on Oil and Sustainable Livelihoods (BUCOSA).

Ms Jacent Akugizibwe, the HOCADEO Project Assistant, said the meeting was in response to the PAPs’ request to have their voice given attention.

Among other issues raised by the community members include soil dump sites affecting their crops and houses – a claim that Kazi-njema News is yet to verify and lack of a health facility.

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