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  • Resource wealth can cause re-colonisation, warns Envoy

    His Excellency Patrick Edwards

    Resource rich countries in Africa are at risk of a new form of colonization unless they check the alarming rate at which foreigners are taking over their land, says the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Uganda.

    In an exclusive interview at the sidelines of the East African Petroleum Conference (EAPC) in Arusha last month, His Excellency Patrick Edwards, also revealed to Oil in Uganda that his country was bidding for the recently tendered Eldoret-Kampala pipeline project.

    “Re-colonization is not necessarily political colonization but economic and social colonization,” he explained. “One has to be careful, there has been a scramble for Africa in the 19th century. The major scramble has been from the former European countries. You have all these countries returning here (Africa) because the developed world is declining economically and they have problems of employment and monetary issues. They are all running back to Africa for salvation,” he said. Read More

  • Image: the Ondiek exploration well

    Hope and frustration in Nebbi, Uganda’s new oil frontier

    This is as close as one can approach Ondiek well without attracting the attention of security guards.

    PANYIMUR SUB-COUNTY, NEBBI DISTRICT:   “It came around Christmas time” says Sylvester Odongo, LC-1 chairman of Abok village, referring to the red and white drilling rig that towers over the bush a few hundred metres from his compound of four, grass-thatched huts.

    It doesn’t trouble them much in the day, he adds—except that when villagers get close to the fenced-off rig, to tend their gardens of cassava and cotton, security guards order them away. Then, at dusk, extra generators kick in to light up the 24-7 drilling operation.  “The noise is terrible and it’s really hard to sleep” the tired chairman complains. Read More

  • Image: Christmas turkey

    So you think you know about oil? And want to be a millionaire?

    For this young man, a bird on the shoulder is worth more than a barrel of oil in the bush (Photo: NY)

    The Oil in Uganda team extends warm, seasonal greetings to all our readers.  Also, to entertain you in between bouts of feasting, we have prepared a little quiz to test your general knowledge of oil  in Uganda and beyond.  Doing the quiz won’t, alas, make you a millionaire, but you may glean some interesting–and some shocking–facts. The answers to the following twenty questions appear at the end of the text—together with a ‘performance assessment’ depending on how many questions you answered correctly. Read More

  • Lands ministry moves to protect customary rights in oil region

    Following widespread land wrangles in the oil-rich Albertine region, the Ministry of Lands has announced plans to resolve this through guidelines to aid in compensation of customary land owners.

    “It is crucial at the moment since people’s rights are at stake and we have the responsibility of protecting the poor and their property. We therefore have to put in place guidelines to ensure that those big oil companies and investors have an arrangement to adhere to and operate within the laws,” Ministry spokesman, Dennis Obbo, told Oil in Uganda. Read More

  • Image: Geoffrey Kiwedde, LC II for Kabaale Parish

    Refinery site residents remain in limbo, and some go hungry

    Geoffrey Kiwedde, LC II for Kabaale Parish (Photo: F. Womakuyu)

    KABAALE PARISH, HOIMA DISTRICT: Kyapaloni village is deserted. The crowds in the once bustling marketplace are no more. Some homes are shut up, bushes have besieged others, and the gardens are empty of the crops they once boasted.

    “The government has told us to begin packing our property and not to grow crops that take more than three months to mature. They said we shall be re-located from this place anytime soon to pave way for the refinery,” says Geoffrey Kiwedde, a Local Councillor II for Kabaale Parish in Buseruka sub-county of Hoima District.

    Kiwedde still doesn’t know when he will have to move or when he will receive compensation for the 18 acres of land that he will give up. Read More

  • “We were cheated!” say brothers. “They’re opportunists!” say officials.

    KANARA SUB-COUNTY, NTOROKO DISTRICT:  Two brothers in this recently created district accuse local officials of leasing to international oil companies land that their family had inherited—but the officials deny any wrongdoing, claiming that the brothers are “opportunists” trying to cash in on oil wealth.

    Edward Tibamwenda and Sam Kato, blood brothers who live mainly from fishing on the southern shores of Lake Albert, claim that in 2005 Bundibugyo District officials leased five acres of their family’s land to Heritage Oil and Gas.  The family, the brothers say, was neither consulted nor compensated. Read More

  • Land, oil and dispossession

    This overview of the connections between oil and land in Uganda was written for the second issue of our quarterly newsletter, now in print.

    By an unfortunate twist of fate, Uganda’s oil and many other mineral resources lie beneath some of the poorest and most marginalised areas of the country.  According to the 1995 Constitution, the state holds these resources in trust for the people; but the great risk is that they will be captured by predatory elites, rather than used for the benefit of the people as a whole. Read More

  • Disputed land at Kigorobya

    Internal Security Officer named in Hoima land dispute

    A murram road cuts through the disputed 1,205 hectares of Kigorobya range and farmland. (Photo: S. Wandera)

    A senior official in Uganda’s Internal Security Organization (ISO), Major Herbert Asiimwe Muramagi, has been named in a complex land dispute in oil-rich Hoima District where, some locals allege, in April of last year he bought 1,200 hectares of land from an entity that had no right to sell it.

    Members of the community in Kisukuma Parish, Kigorobya sub-county, further allege that when they resisted demands to vacate the land for the new owner they were beaten and arrested by armed police and soldiers.

    When contacted by telephone on July 4, however, Major Muramagi—who is Maritime Director of the ISO, responsible for security on Lake Albert —denied involvement. “It is all lies. I do not own any land in Hoima and I have never owned land in Hoima,” he told Oil in Uganda.

    Read More

  • Refinery resettlement study on track, says contractor

    A firm contracted by the government to design a resettlement and compensation package for people displaced by the Hoima oil refinery project expects to conclude its initial study this week, according to the contractor, Strategic Friends International (SFI).

    “We are finishing a field study of the area this week. We shall then embark on writing up the findings and hand over the final resettlement study to the government in September,” Koseya Wambaka, SFI’s head of operations, told Oil in Uganda. Read More

  • Image: Eriakimi Kaseegu

    Thugs attack Buliisa villagers who say their land was stolen

    Eriakimi Kaseegu, LC 1 Chair for Kasenyi village, says he was beaten and arrested in May, after contesting the unlawful sale of community land. (Picture: F. Womakuyu)

    KASENYI, BULIISA DISTRICT Months after the central government tried to quell land speculation in oil-rich Bunyoro by suspending the issue of new land titles, Oil in Uganda visited Kasenyi, on the north eastern shores of Lake Albert, and unearthed a tale of double-dealing and thuggery seemingly abetted by district leaders and security officials.

    Eriakimi Kaseegu, the Kasenyi Local Council One Chairman, revealed that community land–including the plot where Tullow Oil’s Kasemene 3 well is located–was fraudulently sold by “outsiders” and that the community’s efforts to investigate the sale were met with violence and arbitrary arrests. Read More