BULIISA. Residents of the oil-rich district of Buliisa are living in fear of eviction and displacement as the country prepares to set up facilities required for commercial oil production.
The government has given a green light to oil companies to engage consultants who are consulting various stakeholders on how the Resettlement Action plan (RAP) will be implemented.
Atacama Consulting, in association with Synergy Global Consulting Ltd and Nomad Consulting Ltd, have been contracted by Total E&P Uganda, the operator of licensed area-1 and Tullow Uganda operations Pty Ltd, the operator of licensed area-2.
Mr Allan Kalangi, a sustainability school manager at the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, said oil firms and government should explain to the Project Affected Persons the size of land, where oil facilities will be located and timelines of the projects so that fear and anxiety is limited.
“Fear and anxiety may cause people to speculate and stop working. Government should borrow a leaf from other areas where similar projects have been implemented so that we avoid or mitigate negative effects of oil developments,” Mr Kalangi told a community consultative meeting in Ngwedo Sub-county last Saturday.
According to an eight-page resettlement planning information document, which this newspaper has obtained, an industrial area and its associated access roads covering approximately 308 hectares, will be located in the villages of Kasinyi, Kisomere, Uduk II, Kibambura, Ajigo, Kirama Kigwera north east, Kigwera south east and Bikongoro in Ngwedo and Kigwera in Buliisa District.
The district has more than 26 oil wells. The oil companies intend to set up oil Central Processing Facility (CPF) camps and yards in the area.
“I have been told by oil company officials that the road to a CPF will pass through my village, but I don’t know the exact place,” Ms Sophia Opoya, the Ajigo village chairperson, said.
According to Mr Abudalah Ocai, a resident of Kisomere village, everyone in the village is worried of the impending displacement.
“We do not know the amount of land that will be required for a CPF and who exactly will be affected,” he said.
Mr Sam Mugisa, 43, a resident of Muvule-1 village in Ngwedo Sub-county, who has a 12-acre piece of land, said his fertile land has sustained him for all his life.
“Am scared of being displaced because I do not know where I will be resettled. I see many trucks coming and leaving my village, I am restless,” Mr Mugisa, a father of 10, said.
Ms Gloria Sebikari, a senior communications officer in the government’s Petroleum Directorate, said government, oil companies and consultants held disclosure meetings in March to kick off the RAP process in Buliisa District.
Ms Sebikari said they will try to resettle the affected persons close to where they are now in order to have minimal disruption to their livelihoods.