Misery Reigns Over Uganda’s Oil City

December 19, 2013 4:17 pm0 comments by:

“I regret why I sold my property and came here to suffer l wish I had remained where I was I would be better now” Laments  a 30-year-old motorcycle taxi driver who sold everything to relocate to Uganda’s oil city with the hope of making his dream of getting rich come true.

The Continent Observer’s Joseph Elunya traveled to Uganda’s oil city-Hoima to find out how life has changed there since the first commercial discovery of oil was made in 2006.

The situation in Uganda’s oil city-Hoima, which is located 225 kilometer North West of the capital Kampala, has not changed despite the commercial discovery of oil.

All what one sees along the dusty and bumpy road that leads to this oil rich town are tiny rusty iron roofed houses and a few maize plantations.

As you get closer to the town, huge billboards of telecommunication companies and banks paint a picture of a city with a beehive of activities.

But as you enter the first thing that welcomes you is the dust then the potholes and the shortage of accommodation.

The town is not only rich in oil but is also the gateway to Murchison Falls National Game Park.

But therein lies a general feeling of hopelessness by town dwellers some of who sold their little possession and relocated with the hope of living a dream life.

Jimmy Kato is among those who sold their possession and relocated to the oil city with the hope of living a dream life.

“Sincerely I regret why I sold my land to get money to come and settle here after hearing about this oil thing. Look what I have benefited since coming here” remarks 30-year-old Kato a motorcycle taxi driver who sold his land and relocated to Hoima town with the hope of benefiting from the oil discovery.

Kato is not alone, for Marriam Mugabe, she had hoped that by setting up a fast food restaurant in town she would get customers from the oil companies. However to her dismay she has only been able to attract the usual town dwellers.

“I have not yet seen the customers whom I had hoped for and I don’t know why employees of these companies (Total E&P and Tullow) are not eating from here”. She is contemplating abandoning the business and relocates elsewhere to make ends meet.

Leaders React

“It’s important for the youths to know that this is the transition period in the oil business and things are likely to be like this till 2017. They should concentrate on their usual activities other than looking at only oil” Remarks George Bagonza the Hoima LC5 Chairperson.

Bagonza advises those who are selling their land to relocate to town to look at the oil discovery as a means and not an end in itself.

Residents Selling off Land

“I cannot spend more than one hour without receiving a call from someone inquiring about the price of land or intending to buy” Explains Ronal Basiima the Hoima Deputy Mayor.

Basiima says the high demand has exacerbated land conflicts in the town as locals sell off their land to cash in on the new demand that is linked to the oil activity in the area.

In the town center not much has changed as the town still has its old fashioned rusty iron roofed Indian shops.

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