Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Hima Cement is in consultations with leaders and the local community in Moroto to access surface rights. The company has held four consultations with the district leadership, councillors together with opinion leaders and the Rupa Community Development Trust, RUCODET, a community trustee representing the people of Rupa Sub County.
Hima Cement is in the process of acquiring a Mining Lease for extraction limestone and marble in Rupa Sub County. Hima is earmarking 14.26 square kilometres in the area.
Under the 2003 Mining Act, the company is required to compensate the person or community, whose life will be affected by the mining activity. Under the law, the department of geological survey and mines will only grant the company a mining lease after showing evidence that the persons or community affected has been fully compensated.
Don Bwesigye, the lead consultant for Hima Cement says the company has been on the ground since 2015 when they acquired an exploration license which later translated into location license in Rupa Sub County. He notes that the company has established the existence of vast deposits of limestone in the area to venture in.
He says that the consultations are meant to empower both communities and other stakeholders on their roles ahead of compensation.
Charles Topoth, an elder in Rupa Sub County says that although the gesture by Hima Cement is good, he fears for the outcome, especially at the compensation. He argues that similar activities were conducted by other companies but the community was left displeased due to the greed by some local leaders in the area.
John Bosco Logwee, the secretary for publicity at RUCODET says there is hope for fair negotiations since the company has involved different stakeholders in the consultations.
Moroto residents are still battling with companies over surface rights, a situation that caused bitter working relationships with Tororo Cement in Napak and DAO Marble in Rupa.
For DAO, the community contested overpayment of surface rights on grounds that the money agreed upon didn’t reach them. The company reportedly paid 800 million shillings but some of the members claim they received peanuts.
At Tororo Cement, the company didn’t pay for surface rights after allegedly presenting a land title to the Commissioner in the department of geological survey and mines. However, some residents protested recently, prompting Tororo cement to pay landowners 100 million shillings.