By Guest Writer
Opinion: Last week, the media released an article where the residents of Rakai district in the areas of Kijumba and Kabaale-Kooki villages in Lwanda sub-county were appealing to EACOP companies to first suspend the compensation processes.
This is because several fraudsters have reportedly crept up and are seeking to benefit from the EACOP funds that are meant for land and other property.
The incident by the fraudsters made EACOP-affected communities in Rakai district stay in fear for the loss of their land and protest against the project development in their area.
A similar issue was observed in Kyotera at Bigada by LOP Mathias Mpuuga, who had the opportunity to interact with EACOP-affected persons. If the issues are not resolved, there is a likelihood of the project being put to a standstill.
It is also noted that in Rakai, the EACOP Company compensated the ghost landlords instead of the real land owners, which has allowed them to gain control of about 641 acres of land.
Besides gaining acres of land, they also coerced tenants into purchasing the land officially instead of paying the required Busuulu. What is most painful is that the ghost landlords were compensated by the EACOP Company without letters of administration.
Truthfully, the identified acres of land would not have been under the control of the imposters if, at all, the EACOP Company and the government had done thorough mapping, evaluation of property, and compensation of the oil-affected persons on time.
According to Article 26(1) of the 1995 Ugandan Constitution, prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation should be made prior to the possession or acquisition of property.
I therefore request the oil companies, especially TotalEnergies, to respect the compensation rights of the EACOP affected persons, as it is clearly indicated in Article 26(1) of the 1995 Ugandan Constitution, which calls for prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation prior to the possession or acquisition of property.
Lastly, I plead with the government of Uganda to always make her citizens aware of the developmental projects that are to take place within the country. This way, the operations will be smoothed, and no resistance or conflicts will be registered anymore.
The author is Hildah Nsimiire, a concerned citizen.
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