Hoima Sugar holds mediation talks with 300 evicted families in Kikuube
Nov 13, 2022
The evictees have accused the company of allegedly contaminating water sources and destroying access roads in their area through improper disposal of waste from the factory
Some of the evictees posing for a photo with the district leaders and Hoima Sugar officials after the meeting. Photo by Peter Abaanabasazi
The evictees who live at Kigyayo Camp in Muzirandura village, Kiziranfumbi sub-county in Kikuube district, are hopeful that their misfortune will soon end following Hoima Sugar Ltd's promise to intervene in the issues affecting the displaced families.
The over 300 families that were evicted by Hoima Sugar in 2014 to pave the way for sugarcane growing in Kiziranfumbi, have been living at Kigyayo Camp for the internally displaced people (IDP) in Muzirandura since 2014.
As they live in this camp, the evictees have accused the company of allegedly contaminating water sources and destroying access roads in their area through improper disposal of waste from the factory.
Muzirandura village chairperson, Edward Tumusiime, said the residents are struggling to access clean and safe water since most of the water sources in the area have been contaminated.
He said the improper disposal of molasses has contaminated water sources and damaged the community roads and the residents have no alternative but to pass through the sugarcane plantation, something that exposes women and teenage girls to defilement and rape.
Edward Tumusiime the Muziranduuru village chairman speaks during the meeting. Photo by Peter Abaanabasazi
The residents also accused the company’s workers of engaging in criminality such as defilement and rape, among others.
Florence Kyamukama, another evictee, said they are living a miserable life and have several times called for the company’s intervention in vain.
She noted that women, men and children are living in congested makeshift huts in the area without social amenities, such as schools, health facilities, water and food because they have no land for cultivation.
Omuhereza Asaba, 60, living with six children in the camp, said they need the company to consider the issue of compensation so that they can get land elsewhere and settle their families.
“We have waited for justice from the courts, but nothing is coming out. It would pay if we can get a good mediator to mediate on our behalf with Hoima Sugar Ltd to see that the company gets land and settles our families. We have suffered enough,” she said.
Rethinasamy Venket speaking during the meeting. Photo by Peter Abaanabasazi
The residents aired their concerns during a mediation meeting between the evictees and Hoima Sugar, which was organised by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) at Kikuube district hall on November 8, 2022.
However, Rethinasamy Venket, the agro manager for Hoima Sugar, promised that the company will fund the establishment of a Police post in Kiswaza Trading Centre where the factory is located to handle the increasing lawlessness among the workers and the community.
He added that the company is also going to hire a building which will host the Police post and also promised to open up the company’s liaison office.
Venket said most of the cases committed by the workers are not always reported to the company, adding that the liaison office will address the communication gap between the company and the community.
On the issues of the roads and water, Venket promised that the company is going to hold a meeting between local leaders and the leaders of the affected people and find a way of addressing the challenge of pollution, construction of community roads, and water sources.
Venket chats with NAPE’s Joan Akiiza after the meeting. Photo by Peter Abaanabasazi
On the issue of the lack of schools, Venket asked the Kikuube district leaders to write to the company so that it gets a way of supporting the community primary school at Kigyayo Camp.
On the compensation issue, Venket could not give a conclusive solution since the issue of land is still in court. However, he promised that the top managers of the company would have a meeting and discuss it and then give feedback to the mediators after one week.
Mediation long overdue
Kikuube district chairperson, Peter Banura, said mediation was long overdue and that dialogue between the evictees and Hoima Sugar is the answer to the long standoff to ensure peace and co-existence.
Banura asked the company to stick to its commitment to see that they end the suffering of the people and enable them to get involved in economic development activities.
NAPE’s Joan Akiiza said the response of Hoima Sugar officials is a sign that mediation will yield positive results.
“We need to find a way to solve the existing conflict amicably to ensure that Hoima Sugar Ltd conducts its business without infringing on human rights,” Akiiza said during the meeting.