Tororo Cement and the Communities: You call it development, I call it “thuggery”
For many years, complaints from the communities are that Tororo cement has destroyed the environment, trees cut and affected without being replaced, people being displaced without resettlement and compensation.
This arises from the notion that prior to operation in the region, the communities were not consulted and consent was agreed upon. In July of last year for example, the community blocked Tororo Cement from accessing the site in Kosiroi village over low prices, land compensation and surface rights. The stormy event compelled the state minister for minerals, Peter Lokeris, to hold a crisis meeting with the parties involved including officials for the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
They said for a long time, Tororo Cement has been extracting marble stones in the area but refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the community or the district leaders. Mr David Omido, the logistics and utility manager at Tororo Cement, admitted they did not have any MoU with either the district administration or the local community.
However, former Moroto LC5 chairperson Mark Musoka said his office had drafted an MoU and asked Tororo Cement to facilitate the process. Several months later, however, there is still no formal agreement in sight, with individual interests taking centre stage. David acknowledged receipt the draft MoU but notes that his team is yet to peruse it and respond accordingly.
The political interference has clouded concerns of land acquisition by Tororo Cement. Information obtained on the ground indicates that Tororo Cement did not pay for the land surface rights as required in the Mining Act, 2003.
Community members demand that TCL should first clears the surface rights issues before any agreement is signed with the community. They acknowledge that whereas Tororo Cement tried to consult the community at first on the 12-square-kilometre piece of land, no money was paid and yet the company has kept on extending its activities to occupy more land.
Within Tapac Sub County, Tororo Cement now claims ownership of close to 50 square kilometres without any knowledge of the land owners. This is arising questions how they acquired the land, their compensation strategies, land owner displacement without consideration of their livelihoods.
On the question of acquiring a mining lease, Edwards Katto Kagimba, the head of Geological Survey and Mines in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, agreed that there were some errors at the time when Tororo Cement got a mining lease from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
On record, Tororo Cement has two mining leases in Tapac but no surface rights have been paid for any. The Mining Act, 2003 indicates that the company applying for the mining lease should have Secured surface rights of the land that is the subject of the application. This still raises compelling questions on how their operations run, environmental mitigation measures occupational health and safety standards and of course royalty collection to the government.