Residents of Buvuma district are dissatisfied with the grievance redress committees established by the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP), saying they are only intended to further delay the compensation for the project-affected persons (PAPs).
This comes a week after the NOPP formed the grievances redress committees in Buvuma town council, Busamuzi, Nairambi, and Buwooya sub-counties where oil palm is grown in the district to address complaints of PAPs involving resettlement, acquisition of land, assets, and loss of livelihoods resulting from the project.
Each committee comprises thirteen members selected from within the sub-counties to mediate concerns arising among outgrowers, residents, and the project.
Peter Mugabe, a resident of Busamuzi Sub County, says payments have been delayed from the time of evaluation, making their land redundant for over seven years, yet it is their only source of survival, and now they are forming committees comprised of local people to solve technical challenges.
Mugabe wonders about the tactics that committees comprised of local people are going to introduce to settle complaints that senior officials at NOPP have failed to address.
Since the introduction of oil palm growing in Buvuma district, there have been several concerns from residents regarding, among others, undervaluation, delayed compensation, and clearance of their land for the investor to establish nucleus plantations before compensation. Some of the residents have gone to court seeking orders halting development activities and re-valuation following the delayed compensation before NOPP takes over their land.
George William Keleba, whose title of tenancy for land measuring 36 acres was taken after he was only compensated for 12 acres, accuses NOPP of finding ways to hoodwink the community into thinking that they care about their concerns, which is false. John Paul Bisaso, one of the redress committee members in Buvuma town council, says that the committees will provide genuine information to the authorities regarding claims from different parties, specifically residents and the NOPP.
He also notes that various matters have been addressed to the Buvuma Oil Palm Out-Growers Association by none-out growers, which turns out to be the wrong forum for them.
NOPP Projects Coordinator, Anthony Nkwasibwe, acknowledges that there are some concerns they haven’t resolved, but the project is also affected by people who encroach on their land. He, however, says that they would rather resolve the disputes amicably than drag those implicated to court.
Buvumba Resident District Commissioner, Jackeline Birungi, appeals to residents to give the committees an opportunity to address their challenges rather than criticize them. She notes that such committees are paramount since they are comprised of local residents who cannot easily be compromised to betray fellow residents.