Hoima district bosses are grappling with the uncontrolled sale of land by locals. According to Hoima municipality deputy mayor, Ronald Basiima, many residents have sold their land to oil speculators— a thing local authorities fear is a time bomb waiting to explode soon.
“Hoima is anticipated to be a fully fledged oil city within the next ten years. As a result, locals are selling off their land to speculators,” Basiima said. The deputy mayor revealed the worrying trend while addressing a group of journalists from Tanzania and Uganda.
The scribes were undergoing an oil and gas reporting training funded by Revenue Watch Institute and African Centre for Media Excellence. “You see some of our people still think that when oil production starts the oil will be flowing on the streets of Hoima and so they will just line up with jerry cans and take home their daily shares,” Basiima said.
“As local leaders we know that this is very dangerous and that’s why we are fighting hard to sensitize the masses and manage people’s expectations.”
“We know this is the only way they’ll make informed decisions like keeping their land.” Basiima however noted that stopping people from selling their land is a daunting task given the allure of the high prices paid by speculators for land in Hoima.
“The price of land has shot up considerably in Hoima as compared to five years ago when the oil speculation craze had not yet peaked,” Basiima said. He revealed that a 50x100ft plot of land that cost about Shs50m to 100m five years back now goes for as much as Shs300m to Shs800m.
George Bagonza, the Hoima district LC5 chairman noted that the major challenge is that even after selling their land some locals simply blow the money instead of investing it in other profitable ventures that can ensure sustainable livelihoods for their families.
The district bosses’ concerns were echoed by civil society leaders, who called for more government involvement in the sensitization process. “The socio-economic set up in the region is totally distorted.
The local Banyoro community are selling themselves out of their land and as a result families are breaking like never before,” says Jackson Wabyona, the chairman, Bunyoro Oil and Gas Local Advocacy Group (BULOGA). “Everyone here is almost a land agent yet we all know that oil is a finite resource and we shall need to go back to normalcy when it is exhausted,”