By Ismail Bategeka

MASINDI: Masindi High Court has Tuesday morning adjourned the hearing of the case of delayed and inadequate compensation of 150 residents who were evicted from 29square kilometres in Kabale village Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district.

They were evicted to pave the way for the construction of an oil refinery, airport and industrial park. The Masindi High Court resident Judge Justice Jessy Byaruhanga adjourned the case hearing to 10th November 2022 to create space for cross examination.

‘’The case hearing has been adjourned to 10th November 2022 to create space for cross examination,’’ he adjourned the case.

In 2014 over 150 residents of Kabale village ran to Kampala High Court accusing the government of delayed and inadequate compensation of oil refinery project affected people.

However, in 2020 the project affected people wrote to the principal judge office showing how the costs of transport was affecting them from Hoima to Kampala for court sessions requesting the principal judge’s direct office of public prosecution transfer the case to Masindi High Court since it was near Hoima.

Brighton Anyampa from Allan and Company Advocates representing project affected people told ugreports that since the case is at the state of examining the witnesses and transferring the case will reduce the expenses since the witness will be traveling from Hoima to Masindi.

‘’We have had adjournments for a decade now since it was costly to move from Hoima to Kampala, we thought if the case was transferred it would help in cost implementation,’’ said Anyampa.

He told ugreports that even at the first hearing of the case at Masindi High Court, the office of the attorney general failed to appear in court.

‘’We have heard disappointment since we received a letter from the attorney general’s office wanting the high court judge to adjust the hearing and hoped the case would be easier but the attorney general’s office is frustrating the process,’’ he stressed.

In 2012, strategic friends international was contracted by the government of Uganda to carry out an assessment on the compensation until 2nd June 2012 when the assessment was done and residents were halted from more development on the land.

According to Christopher Opio, one of the evicted residents, people who accepted cash compensation were paid in 2015 while those who accepted physical relocation were relocated in 2018 to Kyakabooga village.

‘’Some people were compensated in 2015 but considering the rate of 2010 instead of 2012 when they were assessed, we went to contest this in the high court in Kampala until now when we have been transferred to Masindi high court,’’ Opio told ugreports.

Dickens Kamugisha the Executive Officer of African Institute for Energy Governance {AFIEGO} explains that the affected people became helpless as they spent many years waiting for compensation.  ‘’They wanted the government to address them since the compensation is adequate and fair,’’ said Kamugisha.

‘’Most of the affected people accepted the money out of frustration, it was not enough. The people who asked for a physical location got the houses in 2018 while others were not compensated at the same time,’’ he noted.

Kamugisha said they are not demanding anything outside the resettlement action plan, they wanted the court to order the government to fulfil the promises that were written down in the 2012 resettlement action plan.

According to Kamugisha, only 46 people received houses out of 93 people who wanted physical relocation.

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