The community in Kigyayo evicted by Hoima Sugar Limited drinking Polluted water
There is an urgent appeal for the Kikube and Hoima district Local governments administrations and the Hoima Sugar Limited, the company behind the eviction of 5000 people in Kigyayo to make sure that they provide a regular and constant supply of safe and clean water to the landless communities evicted by Hoima Sugar Limited in Kigyayo. These people have lost their rights to water and their general human rights are being violated as they are forced to drink heavily polluted water.
The Hoima Sugar Limited and the local government of Hoima and Kikube districts have failed to provide the communities in Kigyayo, an area within the Sugar canes plantations that belongs to Hoima Sugar Limited. Members of the Community have no access to safe water and they are being forced to drink polluted water and also rainwater. This water according to the Albertine Watch seems to be very contaminated and dangerous for human and animal’s consumption.
An independent investigation by the Albertine Watch found that the communities of Kigyayo are drinking water from wells contaminated with molasses and acid from the Hoima Sugar Limited Factory. The Albertine Watch is appealing to the Ugandan Government (Hoima and Kikube districts) to take immediate action in order to provide safe and clean water to the people of Kigyayo. Action is needed from the government and other stakeholders to ensure the communities are provided with safe water.
Albertine Watch has a reason to ascertain that the water these communities are consuming fails to meet the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for drinking water quality.
Kids playing in and drinking contaminated water
The Albertine Watch conducted an investigation in Kigyayo between January and April 2019. Communities of Kigyayo told the Albertine watch they don’t have access to clean water. There are great needs for drinking water, cooking and bathing water among others. The Albertine watch was told that it has become difficult for the community to afford having water, they can’t afford to buy water. But they are spending a lot of money on water, which in some cases amounting to 50% of their daily earning. The communities are in most cases eating one meal a day instead of having both breakfast, lunch, and supper. Those who cannot afford to buy water drink and use water from the contaminated swamps which are not safe for their health. Some people drink water from swamp already contaminated. Others get water from the borehole even when molasses is seen visible on the water top. The only borehole is serving the entire communities. Some people use rainwater that contains small black particles. These people have no other choice when they cannot afford to purchase water from the Hoima Sugar Limited water tank.
Backgrounds to the problems in Kigyayo
Kigyayo is located in Kiziranfumbi sub-county, Kikube district. In 2000, the people of Kigyayo were attacked by the Ugandan Police force armed led by the Royal Guards from the kingdom of Bunyoro and evicted 5000 people to leave land for sugar growing project of Hoima Sugar Limited. This police and the royal guards were sent by the late Herbert Rwakiswaza Kimera who claimed the ownership of this vast chunk of land in Kigyayo. The Resident District Commissioner of Hoima, the Hoima district Police and the Local Council 3 of kizarafumbi intervened to help the communities go back to occupy their land because the evictions were illegal. They were told to go back and use their land because the police investigation found out that the eviction was not lawful.
In 2012, the incidence happened again. This time a total of 5000 people were forcefully evicted without eviction warrant and in absence of local, district authorities. The eviction was one that can be described as clandestine and murderous in nature. Peoples crops were raided, houses were burnt, many people were murdered and mass burial was conducted. The Royal guards used bulldozers, caterpillars, and tractors to destroy the community’s properties in order to dispose them off their land to clear ways for sugar canes growing by Hoima Sugar Limited.
The land in question was sold by Herbert Rwakiswaza Kimera to the Indians investors to put up a sugar factory according to report received by the Albertine Watch.
Immediately after the injustices, the communities decided to open lawsuit against the Hoima sugar Limited.
Despite the attempt by Masindi High court for the people to stay and go back to their land, it did not work out in favor of the people of Kigyayo. According to the court document seen by Albertine Watch, it was found out that the land in question did not belong to Herbert Kimera, but instead was borrowed from the Kigorobya sub-county in the names of Kitana Growers co-operative society, not Herbert Rwakiswaza Kimera who did not even have a title for the land he was claiming to belong to him. This was after a survey commissioned by authorities for the opening of the boundaries of Block 6 plot 6 of the same land which was done. The survey results found out that the title for the land Hebert was claiming did not exist for that particular areas.
After the eviction, the Judge of Masindi High Court visited the locus and the camps in Kigyayo in Kiziranfumbi sub-county and ordered the security committee to make sure that Court orders are respected.
However, it should be noted that the people of Kigyayo up-to-date are still suffering from lack of basic amenities, water food, education. Their human rights have been denied and more suffering continues as they have failed to access justice in the court of law. For many years now, the High Court in Masindi has failed to read the Judgment. Besides that, the communities have been able to write petitions to the office of the President, as well as to the Commission of Inquiry into Land matters but no justice and positive response has been granted to them.
Numbers of local, national and International Organisations have tried to play a big role to ensure the issues of Kigyayo are resolved and to see that these evictees attain justice by paying their Legal fees to enable them to access a Lawyer on time. But it’s not always easy because most of these NGOs are grappling with resources to sustain the case. The few organizations including Navigator of Development –NAVODA, Civic Response of Environment CRED and Albertine Watch are trying to push hard in a bid to ensure the evictees attain justice by being compensated for the damages caused by the Hoima Sugar factory and late Herbert Kimera Rwakiswaza.
Part of the pristine Kigyayo Biodiversity under threat due to Hoima Sugar Limited encroachment and clearing of trees to pave ways for Sugar Canes plantation
In the letter dated 20th July 2017. The Kigyayo evictees submitted their complaints to the chairperson Judicial Commission into Land matter in Kampala demanding for the government to intervene in the matter so that Hoima Sugar Limited would compensate them for the loss and resources they have lost in the process of the evictions.
In their own words, this is what was written in the letter sent to the chairperson Judicial Commission into Land matter;
We the residents of the above address in the LCs of Kigyayo/Muzirandura in Munteme Parish, we would like to let the office of the Commissioner know that there are thieves in the public offices who tend to help only the rich people at the expense of the poor people in the Country hence tarnishing the name of the government, so that your dream for this nation succeeds.
In 2012, we had a land conflict with the late Hebert Rwakiswaza Kimera, who claimed to be registered proprietor of the Land where we lived for so many years since the 1960s. As Law abiding people, we decided to sue him to Court in the High Court at Masindi so that we can have justice. As we were still in Court, there came Indian investors in 2013 under Hoima Sugar Ltd, whom we did not know where they came from and started destroying our properties such as gardens, houses, animals and birds using bulldozers, caterpillars, tractors without any eviction order from Court. This was done by the help of Uganda Police and many of us were arrested, beaten and even others died due to heavy torture.
We got a Court order to open boundaries of the title that the family of late Kimera claimed to have as Bugahya block 6 plot 6. But unfortunately, the surveyors found that the contested land has no title at all and found that the land title was in Buhaguzi where our Land in conflict is and this title was in the names of Kitana Growers ‘cooperative society. A copy of surveyors’ report is attached “A”.
Before the surveying was done, we petitioned the police land protection unit-Kibuli- Kampala and police was ordered to maintain the status quo until the issue could be resolved but this was disrespected by Hoima Police under the command of the RPC Charles Sebambulide –Hoima, DPC Akankwasa Bernard office of RDC Nyakahuma Godfrey – Hoima and his Deputy Ambrose Mwesigye, Kabalega RISO- Hoima letter dated 12/June/2013 is attached Annex “B”
In 2014 July 7th, we got an order from Court, instructing both parties maintain the status quo and stop further eviction, which order was implemented by the police land protection unit. But very surprisingly the Chairperson, the order was not respected at all and went on evicting until the whole Land was covered and planted sugar canes and factory plant within our land and without compensation. A copy of Court order is attached as “C”
We also got a Court order directed by Judge to the registrar which ordered RDC, DPC, RPC to implement court orders but the same named persons above went ahead evicting us until they covered all our land. A copy of the order dated 23rd /3/ 2015 is here attached and marked annex “D”
The Chairperson Judicial Commission into Land matters, as we talk now, we are living in camps under makeshifts in the areas of Kijayo/ Muzirandura in Kiziranfumbi Hoima and life here is very bad and so difficult for people to live in.
During the eviction process, Hoima Sugar ltd managed to destroy our property such as agricultural products, houses, households, animals and birds and all these make a value in shillings of eighty-two billions one hundred forty-seven million eight hundred sixty-three thousand and eight hundred sixty shillings only.(82,147,863,860=) which contain in the valuation report and this valuation was made for the 394 families who were evicted and however, many other families are on target to be evicted and these include the villages of Kyabataka, Ikoba 11,Buhumuriro, Kadic and Kyakasoro villages.
At the camp here, we have got a number of problems such as lack of food, shelter, education and medical care. It’s now 2 years since we joined this makeshift camp whereby we do not have food for our families but surviving and living on God’s Mercy. Since we no longer have sources of income, education to our children has become difficult because there is nowhere to study from. Makeshifts are made of banana fibers and other grasses which are not permanent during rain, it rains on us. When it’s sunny, they catch fire and the little we have is burnt. When it comes to sickness and diseases, some die others survive by God’s mercy because of no access to medical services. So the Commission into Land matters, life here at the camp is not the best for your people/ Ugandans to stay in.
Despite all these problems and challenges, we still believe that we can attain justice through the Judicial Commission into Land matters. So here, we take this opportunity to thank you for the grate work you a doing to help sort the land conflicts in our Region.
Our humble questions are here below:
Someone who respects the law and order and that who does not respect them, who of the two does the Government want? Why always supporting wrongdoers?
What order did Hoima Sugar Ltd use to evict us and from where? Which Court?
Which government department / Ministry is responsible for implementing the Court orders? If it is police why did it fail to implement the available Court orders?
Is it that Hoima police was/is mandated to evict people from their Lands? Or to protect people and their property?
We know that the wrong doers are always punished. Why not Hoima Sugar Ltd? Is it above the Law?
We want to know the role of the RDC, RPC, DPC, DISO in Hoima District? They were served with all court orders. Why are people suffering today yet these offices are there for the public?
Should we say that Kijayo people are not Ugandans? Why have they treated s rebels?
If we are Ugandans, why can’t the Ugandan government come and rescue us from Land thieves.
These are our humble requests
Pray that government stops/ halts all the activities of Hoima Sugar Ltd in the area, and those who were evicted are compensated for damages.
Let the government punish these investors for destabilizing the Ugandan peace and disobeying Uganda’s Law and court orders
We request that government force Hoima Sugar Ltd pay for all our time and lives of our fellows who died during the excessive force used by police in the illegal eviction exercise.
Meanwhile, we request the government to cancel out the Land titles in the names of Hebert Rwakiswaza Kimera, block 6 plots 39 and plot 40 block 12 which he derived from the mother title Block 6 plot 6 and this block was found in Bugahya- County Kigorobya Sub-County not Buhaguzi County which is in the names of Kitana growers’ co-operative society not Kimera Hebert.
We finally call upon the government to intervene in our matters so that we can also enjoy liberty in our beloved country and restore our human rights.
Through your beloved office, we shall be grateful if our humble requests will be urgently considered because we are suffering in the camp with no food, poor health conditions, accommodations or no access to any social amenities.
Similarly, on the 6th February 2018, the evictees submitted another letter to the Chairperson Judicial Commissions into Land matters reminding him about the plight from Kijayo communities.
In their own words. This is what the letter reads;
This letter to your esteemed Commission humbly seeks to remind you about the Untold Suffering of the 4633 evictees who were violently evicted from their respective pieces of land by one Herbert Kimera using the police for the establishment of Sugarcane plantation and subsequently a Sugar Facility by a company Called Hoima Sugar Limited.
The above mentioned 4633 Victims have been living in Makeshifts Since the 15th of February 2015 and the Plight they are in Since beyond expression. On 8th-8-2017 we had the great opportunity of meeting and submitting our Complaints to your esteemed Commission-L1/818/2017 and L1/812/2017 and ever since then regarding this event as a Divine intervention through you will expedite the Plight of the Kijayo evictees.
In the above regard Kindly accept to receive our reminder so that this problem is solved.
The Albertine Watch is deeply concerned of the severe ongoing violation of human rights and land grabbing in the entire Albertine graben being authored by well-connected individuals interested in large scale agri-business which is among others perpetrating environmental degradation and deforestations among others.
As the Oil development in and around the Albertine region of Uganda continues to grow, large scale agribusiness is also expanding and moving into increasingly remote areas which were inhabited by local communities. These large-scale projects may bring opportunity for citizens of the nations where the resources are being developed. However, the poorest and most marginalized people are often excluded from potential project benefits. Increasingly, indigenous peoples and local communities have called on governments and companies to enable them to give or withhold their free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) before the start of any development projects that have the potential to affect their lands and natural resources.
Although there is no universally accepted definition of Free and Prior Informed Consent, Oxfam defines it as the principle that indigenous peoples and local communities must be adequately informed about projects in a timely manner and given the opportunity to approve (or reject) a project before operations begin. This includes participation in setting the terms and conditions that address the economic, social, and environmental impacts of all phases of the projects and post-extraction operations for the case of oil and development.
In Africa, regional institutions, civil society organizations, and others have recently begun to call for Free and Prior Informed Consent processes when natural resource projects and agribusiness have the potential to impact local communities regardless of whether affected communities identify themselves as indigenous peoples. For example, since 2009, the Economic Community of West African States, ACHPR, Pan-African Parliament, and Africa Mining Vision have all called on States to respect the Free and Prior Informed Consent of local communities that face potential impacts from mining, hydrocarbon development, or natural resource projects more broadly.
The government of Uganda is now getting fully prepared to have the legal authority to institute compulsory acquisition of land, it should refrain from doing so for economic development projects that present significant risks to local communities, such as extractive industry projects. These projects should proceed only with the Free and Prior Informed Consent of the local communities that will be affected by the project.