Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) in collaboration with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on Friday 25th held the last of the three public hearings for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Rakai District.
Just like at the last two hearings held in Kakumiro district on Monday and Mubende District on Wednesday, residents in these areas and the surrounding districts advocated for timely and adequate compensation for their land, market for local goods and services, protection of the environment and better services delivery in their areas.
The chairman LCV Rakai district, Mugabi Robert Benon notes that since the markings were done on people’s land, they have stopped using it and yet compensation has not yet been done which is constraining to the owners. He further asked government to reconsider working on the Kyotera Rakai road which has originally been marked as an oil road but was later abandoned due to limited finding.
“As the areas that will be affected by this Pipeline, we feel we deserve some compensation in terms of good roads and other services. We want the original plan for this road to be worked on,” he said.
The Head of Finance in Kooki sub-kingdom of the Buganda kingdom, Kintu Livingston asked government to do proper assessment of the land and pay fair rates to both the tenants and land owners.
“Our land system is different from the other parts that were affected by the Pipeline, we have two owners for the same piece of land, the land owners and those that are using the land, our prayers is that the system is fair to both parties,” he said.
Speaking at the last hearing held at Lwanda public grounds in Rakai, the State Minister for Minerals Peter Lokeris said Uganda has put in place laws and regulations that will ensure that Ugandans benefit positively from the oil and gas.
“All our negotiations, discussions and laws are directed towards protecting the interests of Ugandans so that they benefit from this natural resource that God has blessed us with. We will ensure that proceeds from oil go towards developing the economy especially the infrastructure,” he said.
In Uganda, the EACOP project will go through ten districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Gomba, Mubende Lwengo, Sembabule, Rakai and Kyotera.
The Ambassador of the Tanzania High Commission in Uganda, Dr. Aziz Ponary Milima commended the government of Uganda for making a step forward towards the accomplishment of the Pipeline that will highly benefit the economy of Tanzania.
According to him, the ESIA public hearings for the affected areas in Tanzania have been carried out and Tanzania is waiting for Uganda and the oil developers, Total, CNOOC to sign the host government agreement and the Final Investment Decision.
He however added that the government of Tanzania is not in a rush and respects Uganda’s decision to negotiate more so that the Ugandans can benefit more from the oil.
Ali Ssekatawa, the Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs at PAU assured the residents that all their issues will be compiled in a report that is being prepared by the Presiding Officer led by Prof Vincent Bangiire of Makerere University who will hand it to NEMA for consideration before it can finally approve the ESIA Certificate for Total E&P.
On delays in land compensation, Ssekatawa said government had already done mapping for the Pipeline and done the land evaluations for the areas to be affected and is now waiting for the approval from the Government chief valuer before they can go back to the ground.
“The process to compensate the affected people has already started and will be completed before the development of EACOP begins. So far there are no delays at all,” he said.
The head of EACOP project Maxime Marchenko said they are doing everything possible to ensure that the project commences soon adding that they are only waiting for government to clear out a few issues.
“As an international company, Total E&P ensures that every development we do is within the law. We thank the government for putting in place the laws and regulations and for doing its part in terms of ground infrastructure, we just have to continue working together to ensure that all these projects are done in time for the good of both parties,” he said.