“Our wish is that every Ugandan benefits from the oil developments instead of individuals,” says Mr Bashir Twesigye, Chairperson for the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas (CSCO).
While speaking at an engagement with the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) stakeholders in Hoima city, Mr Twesigye said the sure way of realising harmonious and equitable development of Uganda’s oil resource is ensuring that the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) are happy.
On the European Union (EU) Parliament position on the EACOP, he said for now he has no sound reason to justify the statement to completely stop the project.
“As we appreciate the achievements in the journey to develop Uganda’s oil resource since 2006, we insist that no single grievance raised by the project affected persons should be left unaddressed. We are not for the stop EACOP campaign and we support the project to continue,” he said.
Mr Twesigye who is also the Executive Director for Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), said impending grievances latest collected from some EACOP PAPs include failure to compensate for indigenous trees, missing items on assessment forms, claims of low land rates and delayed compensation.
Mr Sam Byarugaba, an EACOP PAP from Kikuuba village in Kiziramfumbi sub-county, Kikuube district, expressed dissatisfaction over valuation of his five-acre piece of land at Shs15m arguing that an acre of land currently goes for between Shs15-20m in the same area.
“I beg the government to revalue my land because it will be difficult for me to replace it,” he said.
Mr Benon Tusingwire, the Executive Director for Navigators of Development Association (NAVODA), called on the government to pay attention to land rates to ensure that the current and subsequent oil projects do not register a lot of grievances.
Mr Michael Mudasi, the Grievance Administrator at EACOP, said the project grievance handling mechanism has registered tremendous success with 706 of 801 grievances resolved so far across the entire project scope.
“Those are the grievances registered since 2018. We have only 95 grievances remaining,” he said.
Singling out Hoima district, Mr Mudhasi said EACOP has settled 58 of the 60 grievances registered adding that even the remaining two are due to internal family disputes among the PAPs. He said the handled grievances included those on land and crop rates and missing items.
He, however, said all along the project faced a challenge of over expectations among some PAPs but in actual sense they have worked tirelessly to address inescapable grievances.
Land rates are set depending on the location of the area and the prevailing market price.
Mr Fred Bazarrabusa, the Community Relations Coordinator at EACOP, said the grievance handling window will remain open until all of them are resolved and compensation is paid before land acquisition.
“Nobody would leave someone’s property unvalued or let it miss on the assessment form deliberately because there is no individual gain from it. Some of those grievances rise out of human errors. Delays in grievance handling depend on the nature of the grievance and how a grievance in Kikuube relates with that of Kyotera. We may delay setting up a team that will handle it comprehensively,” he said.
Mr Bazarrabusa said that despite different challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted their activities in 2020 and 2021 as of September 23, 2022, the project key stakeholders had covered 60% compensation of the EACOP PAPs.
According to him, the PAPs compensated so far are very happy with the project since they also got their 15% compensation uplift.