Following claims of under valuation, delayed compensation and intimidation of the persons affected by the feeder pipeline projects, Civil Society Organisatons (CSOs) want vigilance and awareness from different stakeholders on the land acquisition process for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.
Mr Bashir Twesigye, the Chairperson for the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas (CISCO) said this after listening to the compensation challenges that some people affected by the Kingfisher feeder pipeline project claim to have faced.
At a community meeting held in Kaseeta Village, Kabwoya sub-county, Kikuube district last week, gaps in knowledge of proper compensation procedure were identified amongst the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) that culminated in conflicts that have left some families split or un-compensated until now.
Mr John Byamukama, a resident of Sayuni village claims that he was intimidated and forced to sign the compensation forms out of his will because he had spotted under valuation of his properties.
“I was intimidated that if I did not sign the compensation forms, I could risk missing it all. I signed but I was not satisfied with the rates,” he said.
Ms Harriet Kyomuhendo alleges that fair compensation was only realised by those who connected to government officials but never universal as it is expected.
However, Mr Christopher Asiimwe, a resident of Ndongo Village noted that the issue of conmen that disguised as officials from Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda Limited and Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, too, instilled fear among locals who consequently made wrong choices.
Some speculators allegedly bought off the local people at cheap price and later enjoyed huge amounts of money for compensation, he added.
CNOOC Uganda Limited is a Chinese company licensed to develop the Kingfisher Oil Fields and also charged with the establishment of the feeder pipeline for Buhuka to Kabaale oil refinery.
Mr Yosamu Musiime, a resident of Hoohwa village claims he was not compensated for his valley dam affected by the project thought it was already out of use for being dry.
Mr Bashir Twesigye, the Chairperson for CISCO who is also the Executive Director for the Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED) said the issues around the feeder pipelines for the Tilenga project in Buliisa and the Kingfisher project in Kikuube should be used as lessons to ensure transparence and accountability during the implementation of the Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs) for the EACOP project.
“People along the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) route should be vigilant and stand firm to defend their rights. Such claims could better have been addressed when it was early enough. Nevertheless, we shall assist all those we can afford to access justice even on the concluded feeder pipeline compensations,” he said.
The affected are residents of Kikuube, Kakumiro, Mubende, Greater Masaka and Kyotera where the EACOP traverses from Kabaale oil refinery in Hoima district to Tanga Port on the Indian Ocean in Tanzania.
Mr John Vaitah Isingoma, the Executive Director for Kitara Development Initiative (KITADI) that participated in the community awareness said they had done all it took to ensure the proceeds went smoothly and finally credited by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) before compensation.
During a Whatssap interview with Kazi-njema News, Mr David Kagoro, the Community Relations Officer for CNOOC Uganda Limited dismissed claims that some PAPs were forced to sign compensation forms.
He said they had a very transparent procedure of compensation and grievance handling mechanisms in close consultation with the government and community leaders from the village level up to the line ministries at the central government.
However, he appreciated there were minor issues that accrued from internal family land conflicts and disputed land boundaries.