Govt asked to address EU concerns - Environmentalists

Sep 22, 2022

Only 41% of the 3,648 people who would be impacted by the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), according to Muramuzi, have received compensation.

Muramuzi (Left) the executive director at the National Association of Professional Environmentalists addressing the media on oil and gas concerns raised by the EU Parliament. (Photo by Nancy Nanyonga)

John Odyek
Journalist @New Vision


Concerns about the environmental and social dangers of the oil and gas projects in Uganda and Tanzania were highlighted by the EU Parliament, and environmental organizations have urged the government and oil firms to take action.

Frank Muramuzi, executive director of the National Association of Professional Environmentalists in Uganda (NAPE), praised the EU decision and said the government should address the environmental and social challenges presented at a press conference held at their office on Entebbe Road on Wednesday.

Because Uganda is a sovereign state, the EU has not intervened to block the oil and gas industry from operating. They are requesting that the government and businesses solve important issues, according to Muramuzi.

Only 41% of the 3,648 people who would be impacted by the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), according to Muramuzi, have received compensation.

Muramuzi suggested that rather than criticizing the resolution and environmentalists, Ugandans should focus on solving the problems that have been brought up.

However, Ugandans, stakeholders, and the international community have been reassured by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) that the environment and social impacts assessment (ESIA) of oil and gas projects in Uganda was thoroughly evaluated and that adequate mitigation measures had been put in place.

According to Dr. Barirega Akwankwasa, executive director of NEMA, they are keeping an eye on the activities of the oil and gas corporations to verify that all legal requirements are being met.

According to Akwankwasa, international standards and agreements are being followed in the development of oil projects.

Gloria Ssebikari, manager of corporate affairs and public relations at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, stated that 204 of the 3,648 Projected Affected Persons (PAPs) who are primary residents and are eligible for resettlement housing under the EACOP project in Uganda.

According to Ssebikari, over 90% of the land acquisition for the EACOP project has been completed, and progress has been made in the disclosure of compensation and the establishment of bank accounts for those who would be impacted by it.

According to her, 72% of PAPs have signed compensation agreements so far, 54% have received payments, and 38% have not signed because of administrative problems including a lack of valid identification or letters of administration.

She mentioned the 727 PAPs when describing the Kingfisher oil project in the Hoima and Kikuube areas. For this, 99% of the people who were impacted by the land acquisition for all the facilities in the Kingfisher project have been compensated.

Resettlement Action Plan 1's five resettlement homes were delivered in 2019, while RAP 2 and 3's 56 further homes were delivered in July 2022.

She claimed that several livelihood-restoration initiatives for those impacted by the project's land acquisition, which started in 2019, had been expanded to include initiatives including agriculture development, fish farming, business support, HIV literacy, and vocational training.

There are 5,523 PAPs, according to her, for the Tilenga oil project in the Buliisa and Nwoya areas. This property acquisition is divided into six RAPs, numbered 1, 2, 3A, 3B, 4, and 5. The 622 impacted individuals received full compensation when the land for the Tilenga Industrial area (RAP 1) was acquired.

This compensation included giving those whose primary inhabitants have impacted 30 residential homes. Projects to restore livelihoods in the areas of agriculture, vocational education, business support, and financial literacy are still being implemented.

In addition to the Tilenga industrial area, 94% of the land has been acquired in preparation for the signing of compensation agreements for infrastructure projects like the pipeline and well pads.

Yusuf Rajab Bwengye the program manager at NAPE said there have been delays in compensating projected affected persons. Bwengye explained that when project-affected persons are asked to leave their land before compensation or resettlement they will have nowhere to plant crops for their families and undertake the management of their domestic livestock. 

“We have been raising these issues but the Government has not addressed them. We have looked at the environment and social impact reports but they have not included some concerns of the people,” Bwengye said. 

NAPE warned in a statement that the EU resolutions shouldn't stir up trouble or be exaggerated.

"The EU is a partner in our progress. The statement read, "We should not blame them because that will not provide us solutions. They support various industries in this country, and we want to model with them to fund the oil and gas sector.

It urged the EU and other development partners to keep a close eye on foreign firms that are based in their home nations and make sure they uphold their commitments to follow international best practices, knowing full well that any mistakes or wrongdoings these firms commit here will cost them dearly. 

"EU has not halted the development of the oil and gas industry. Given that Uganda is a sovereign state, they do not have such authority. Where is the issue when all they are doing is bringing up important points that they want the government and businesses to address? We would not be having this conversation right now if these concerns had been addressed earlier," it stated.

They expressed worries about criminalizing anyone for airing opposing ideas, including citizens, members of the public, media, and journalists. It requested that NEMA review the oil companies' environment and social impact assessment licenses and ensure that the concerns voiced by the EU Parliament are reflected in the updated licences.

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