THE Osukuru community in Tororo district has been asked to withdraw a civil matter they filed against an investor seeking to explore phosphate deposits in Osukuru hills.
Addressing the people at Osukuru sub-county headquarters on Monday, the minister of general duties in the Prime Ministerâ€™s office, Hajat Janat Mukwaya, said defiance may prompt government to act timely.
A proposed $500m phosphate mining investment stalled in July 2008 after the sought legal re-dress from Mbale High Court, citing irregularities in the property valuation and compensation exercise.
Mukwaya, accompanied by the state ministers for minerals and lands, Peter Lokeris and Asuman Kiyingi respectively, earlier showed them a land title to confirm that the Government was the legitimate owner of the land they were occupying.
â€œShould the case proceed, you are likely to loose it and we shall demand damages,â€ said Mukwaya, attracting deafening murmurs of disapproval from the audience.
She said the Government would instruct the Attorney General to fix a hearing of the case should the community fail to withdraw itâ€™s suit.
Tororo county MP Geoffrey Ekanya told The New Vision that the decision by the minister considering to fix a hearing date for the case was loosing the point of contention.
â€œThe people of Osukuru embrace the investment. The minister ought to take a more civil way of settling this matter because the investors were infringing on their rights,â€ Ekanya said.
A section of the community, who spoke to The New Vision after the meeting, said the ministerâ€™s remarks contradicted what President Yoweri Museveni said in September last year in a meeting with MPs from Tororo.
In the meeting, Museveni instructed the Ministry of Finance to compensate the affected community over and above the market value.
However, since the Presidentâ€™s directive, nothing had been done.
â€œWe get shocked to see the minister coming up with yet another decision,â€ said Peter Emaset, an elder.
Tororo municipality MP Sanjay Tanna insisted that the compensation exercise was marred by a lot of irregularities. He told the community to accept fresh evaluation and compensation.
The phosphate mining project at Osukuru is being undertaken by Nilefos, a firm affiliated to the Madhvani Group of Companies.
The commissioner geological survey and mines Joshua Tuhumwire said at the time when the activities of the project stopped, the investors had just started to carry out pilot studies on the mineral.
Minister asks Osukuru to drop lawsuit