Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

Judge To Expedite Delayed Kyakaboga Refinery PAPs Case

The preparation for production of the country’s oil and gas has not been a bed of roses for some families in the albertine graben region – many have been left scared, hurting and homeless. Attempts to seek redress in courts of law have not provided a quick fix. 

When government acquired over 29 sq. km of land for Uganda’s proposed refinery beginning in 2012, tens of homes had to give up their land, culture and way of life to allow the project take off. Government promised to compensate them sufficiently to restore them to their normal homely setting.

While government has done a great deal compensating the refinery project affected people, especially those who chose for cash compensation, some of the project affected persons (PAPs) who chose resettlement have not received their worth, many of them chose to go to court. And for a long time they have been praying that court serves them justice – just not yet though.

But if anything from their latest appearance at Kampala High Court, on March 4, 2019, where the matter is being heard by Lady Justice Cornelia Sabitti, their fate has a few months to be known. In an attempt to expedite the hearing, the judge has offered ‘to visit the refinery-affected people’s settlement in Kyakaboga, Hoima district in an attempt to understand the matter better.

The judge’s decision follows a submission of evidence by all the refinery-affected people, Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), the civil society organization helping the PAPs get justice said in a press statement

AFIEGO said the judge’s decision came after Mr. John Bosco Wandera, who is one of the plaintiffs in the case in which the refinery-affected people accuse government of under-compensating and delaying to compensate them, submitted his evidence.

During the case hearing that took place on March 4, 2019 at the Kampala High Court, Mr. Wandera told the judge that he had two pieces of land in the refinery area in Kabaale-Buseruka, Hoima prior to government’s land acquisition. When asked to leave, Mr. Wandera opted for physical relocation for one of his pieces of land and asked for cash compensation for the other.

Mr. Wandera told the judge that he was displeased with government’s decision to construct for the refinery-affected people houses in a camp-like settlement. “I was a member of the resettlement committee and in 2014, Ministry of Energy took us to Kyakaboga to see the land it said it wanted to buy.

The land was rejected by both the committee and the refinery-affected people because families wanted to be bought for land on a case-by-case basis as committed to by Ministry of Energy in the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) report of 2012.

The committee and the refinery-affected people told Ministry of Energy that the camp-settlement in Kyakaboga would not allow people to engage in farming. It would also breed poor sanitation and result in tension with neighbours,” Mr. Wandera said.

ABADONMENT OF KYAKABOGA HOUSES

In October last year, some residents living in Kyakaboga resettlement area, Buseruka sub-county in Hoima district, started abandoning their three-roomed houses constructed by government.

Government constructed 46 houses for families who opted for resettlement to pave way for the proposed oil refinery in Kabaale parish, Buseruka sub-county, Hoima.

But the residents started leaving and constructed temporal houses in the neighboring village. Mr. Innocent Tumwebaze, the chairperson of the affected residents reported that over eight families had abandoned the newly constructed houses due to sanitation related issues.

Mr. Julius Ochokdhogu, a father of five children told Earthfinds last year that he decided to shift into a new home because of the limited house capacity to accommodate his family. He says the house requires high sanitation standards yet there is limited water access, no lights among other issues.

Mr. Geoffrey Komakech, the area district councilor who is also the district secretary for production and natural resources says they are to write to the energy ministry to seek for redress of the community concerns.

The uncontended PAPs continue to express displeasure over what government offer upto today. “Kyakaboga smells because 46 pit latrines, houses and kitchens are built in the squeezed settlement. The latrines are very close to the kitchen and the houses making the settlement unhygienic. I abandoned my house because of the situation in Kyakaboga,” Mr. Wandera told the judge early this month.

He also told court that his children had fallen sick because Kyakaboga is unhygienic. Mr. Wandera asked the judge to visit Kyakaboga and assess its situation. The judge said she could visit after hearing all the evidence.

During the case hearing, Mr. Wandera also informed the judge that because of the cut-off date of June 2, 2012, he was unable to re-build his house in Kabaale-Buseruka when it fell in 2014.  This is because the cut-off date stopped him and other refinery-affected families from undertaking developments on the affected land.

The judge made the decision to expedite the hearing because the refinery-affected people travel from Hoima, Kiryandongo and other districts to Kampala for every hearing of the case. This is expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome especially on women and the poor. The judge fixed the next hearings in June 2019.

Solar Sector Must Overcome Quality Problems

The use of solar in Uganda is increasing, moving on from being only a source for lighting to other uses like powering agribusiness and other alternative uses, Mr. Amos Tamusuza, the acting Principal Energy Officer at Ministry Of Energy And Mineral Development (MEMD) told a media training in Kampala.

The growth in solar consumption is however being slowed and challenged by the rampant existence of fake solar products on the market. Mr. Tamusuza noted that because of fake and poor quality products sold to unsuspecting customers, many people say solar technology doesn’t work.

The integrity of persons dealing in solar products is also lacking. This, he said hampers solar uptake. He revealed that renewable energy mix on the national grid was expected to grow from 4 percent to 60 percent but has only managed to grow to 40 percent.

Association To Address Poor Standards

The other challenge has been insufficient awareness and promotion of solar across the country. This has left consumers of solar ignorant and cheated by rogue traders. To address these problems, the ministry facilitated the formation an association that would bring all traders dealing in solar energy.

“We found out that if we are a well-organized body, we can build a vibrant sector. We had to bring these people together,” Mr. Tamusuza stated. And with that in mind, Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA) was born – to help the ministry in positioning solar energy first.

“Solar was expensive but now the prices are coming down but we feel the costs are still higher. It has become more affordable and usage of solar has increased especially in rural areas. We are happy for that. Companies are enabling customers to pay in instalments but we still have quality problems. The integrity of dealers is lacking,” Mr. Tamusuza narrated.

To fight poor quality products on the market, Mr. Tamusuza is of the view that for anybody to get a licence from the energy minister to sell solar products must be a member of the Uganda Solar Energy Association. This way, the association can monitor the quality members are putting on the market through adhering to an ethical code of conduct that must be followed.

 

The association is also working with several partners including United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), USAID, UKAID, World Bank and government of Uganda to deepen solar uptake.

Access To Clean Energy Still Hard

Mr. Julius Magala, the Energy Access Coordinator, Clean Start Programme (UNCDF) who opened the media training session, applauded USEA for the initiative and its role in promoting the use of clean energy among Ugandans.

“Access to clean energy remains a challenge for many communities in Uganda and hinders economic development. It’s therefore important that USEA and the media work together to help address the bottlenecks that people face in accessing quality clean energy solutions, if Uganda is to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” he said.

“UNCDF is committed to working with USEA to help improve the lives of many Ugandans by promoting and investing in initiatives that promote access and the use of clean energy,” Magala added.

According to a study on the use and Viability of Solar Energy in Uganda by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, 88% of Ugandans use kerosene for lighting and 79% use firewood for cooking while only 1% use solar energy for the two purposes. The heavy reliance on biomass by the country as a source of energy in day to day life puts the country at risk of environmental degradation and climate change.

Solar Provides Cheap Alternative

Ms. Joyce Nkuyahaga, the Chief Executive Officer of USEA, mentioned that solar provides an alternative source of power especially in rural areas. The main source of power in Uganda is hydroelectricity which has not covered the main parts of rural areas and remains largely expensive. An increase in power tariffs on the national grid to Shs718.9 per kwh made electricity inaccessible.

In the earlier days of solar entering onto the Ugandan market, it was considered expensive but like Mr. Tamusuza and Ms. Nkuyahaga noted, this is changing for the better. Ms. Nkuyahaga reveals that now you can get a solar package of 4 solar lamps, a radio, phone charging at Shs500, 000 with a three year warranty and can last for over ten years. It doesn’t come with monthly tariffs, all you do is put it in the sun for natural recharging.

She further revealed that 500, 000 households have been covered by solar in the past six years while UMEME, the company that distributes electricity on behalf og government has reached only reached 1.3million connections.

And with improvement in solar technology, solar performance has also improved. Consumers are finding alternative uses of solar because increased capacities and efficiency. Today many people are using solar for irrigation and industry use.

At Power Trust Uganda, they are selling a solar milling machine. Such innovations are set to help rural areas where there is no electricity to add value to their farm produce.

Mr. Paul Jack Kulosi, the business development manager at Power Trust said with the solar milling machine one can add value to 800 kilograms of maize that way one can produce food for home use and also get animal feeds.

Sebalu & Lule Advocates Should Have Some Integrity, Says Rajiv Ruparelia

City law firm Sebalu & Lule Advocates, as senior counsels, are setting a bad example and should have integrity, Rajiv Ruparelia, a director of Crane Management Services (CMS), a subsidiary of Ruparelia Group, has said.

His comments comes at a time when court is concluding a case in which CMS is contesting that Sebalu & Lule Advocates shouldn’t be representing dfcu Bank because the law firm in 2016 was contracted by CMS to draw and review tenancy agreements. CMS sights conflict of interest.

Crane Management Services dragged dfcu Bank to court accusing it of defaulting on rent payments amounting to Shs2.9b and $385,728.54 on properties which housed Crane bank and now being occupied by dfcb Bank. Commercial Court’s Justice Paul Gadenya Walimbwa has set April 24, 2019 as date on which he will deliver his ruling on a case.

The attempt by Sebalu & Lule Advocates to represent dfcu Bank against their former client has not gone down well with Rajiv Ruparelia. “They are trying to deny it, it’s obvious. The emails, the payments say everything. It is so sad that they a setting an example like this as seniors counsels in the country to the youths. They should have some integrity in what they are doing,” he told journalists shortly after the court session on Wednesday.

Crane Management Services lawyers have asked Commercial Court Judge Paul Walimbwa Gadenya to disqualify lawyers of Sebalu , Lule and Company advocates from representing dfcu Bank in case filed against it by Crane Management service Ltd citing conflict of interest.

The petitioner avers further that during their clients advocate Interaction with the Sebalu , Lule advocates divulged previlleged and confidential information which DFCU can exploit to his disadvantage in the present despite before court .

New Tenants Getting Free Three Months’ Rent At Segawa Market

Rent is a cost any starting or Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) business dreads and is reportedly one of the reasons why such business fail to start or to thrive through its first and second years of existence.

Well aware of this bottleneck failing business startups and their survival, Haruna Enterprises, the real estate firm with a number of commercial buildings in Kampala, is offering three months free of rent as a bonus to tenants who booking for space at the new magnificent Segawa Market, a mall located at Mwanga II Road, opposite Lubiri.

Businessman and proprietor of Haruna Enterprises Haruna Sentongo said this has been done to help tenants grow their businesses without worrying about rent. Mr. Sentongo under Haruna Enterprises owns a variety of commercial building in the city such as Haruna Towers in Wandegeya and another one located in Ntinda

Segawa Market is fully installed with electricity, standby generators, water supply and water tanks to store water for emergencies and a security detail backed by Uganda Police. The property is suitable for business and office space hire.

The shops come in all sizes and prices on the first and second floor and for all sorts of businesses. Therefore, if you are looking for a place to put your business, office in Kisenyi and the large Lubaga division, Segawa Market is the place to go.

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