Make the land acquisition process inclusive for sustainable community restoration
In June 2021, Total started the RAP disclosure process of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. The disclosure process is where government reveals the affected persons the established value of their property and how much they are meant to receive compensation for their property. This is a progressive step towards the development of Uganda’s Oil and Gas sector and better still, it is an indicator that government is yet to fulfil its obligation of fully compensating people affected by the EACOP. However, where as much has been done, revelations from people affected by the EACOP signal the lack of information on land matters and the land acquisition process.
On the 15th October 2021, GRA organised a training on land acquisition and compensation processes for Mining, Oil and Gas projects. The training aimed at deepening the understanding of these processes to project affected persons and community based monitors especially in regard to understanding the position of Uganda’s law on the subject. Mr. Alex Ssali, a consultant on land laws facilitated the online training in which many PAPs raised questions on land. One of the participants, A PAP from Kakumiro district stated, “Our land was undervalued and whenever we go the district, duty bearers say they don’t evaluate Land at the district yet it’s difficult to access the chief government valuer.” Another participant from Lwengo district inquired why land fom Lwengo Sub-county and Lwengo town council was valued at the same price.
Whereas the laws on land acquisition seem to clear, there is a lot that needs to be done especially in regard to information sharing on how other issues arising from land acquisition projects ought to be handled, for example duty bearers need to sit down with stakeholders in an inclusive way to determine how interests of parties on project affected land can be amicably solved in the disclosure process for example loss of primary beneficiaries, issues of absentee landlords, issues arising out of different land administration systems such as mailo land in which occupants don’t bear land titles but agreements which can be contested. The land acquisition process therefore needs to be handled in a step by step process that is inclusive at all levels and leaves no one behind.